Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Ages: 13-19, grades 8-12
Literary Merit: High
CAGED WARRIOR takes the reader to places they had no idea they could even go between the pages of a book. The poorest parts of Detroit, on of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the U.S., is where McCutcheon ""M.D."" Daniels calls home. He's only 16, but M.D. is the breadwinner for his family. He drops off and picks up his little sister from school every single day. He makes dinner, gets little Gemma new winter clothes, and cleans the house. Not only is M.D. basically his little sister's dad, he is an underground cage fighter. That's right, this 16 year-old has been trained from birth to be the best Mixed Martial Arts fighter in the city.
M.D.'s father is the driving force behind this lifestyle. He's an awful human being, and an even worse father. M.D. and Gemma's mother left them years ago, and they're stuck with this horrible dad to keep a roof over their heads. When M.D. gets the opportunity to attend a prestigious charter school he thinks there is no way that will happen - not only is he not interested, he can't take Gemma with him, and his father is already pressuring him to drop out of school next year.
M.D. has to deal with some incredibly difficult issues. Raising his little sister, getting good grades, training every morning and afternoon, surviving cage fights every Saturday - this kid is lucky to be alive. His struggles are real, they are life-and-death, and they are thrilling.
If you are looking for a really intense book about really intense issues, if you want something to keep a reluctant reader's attention, or if you want to get a book in the hands of boys dealt a rough hand in life, then pick this one up. It was a fast read because I simply couldn't put it down.