“Shadowboxer” by Jessica Webb— Between Past and Present

Webb, Jessica. “Shadowboxer”, Bold Strokes Books, 2018.

Between Past and Present

Amos Lassen

Jordan McAddie has not had it easy. She went through a tough childhood and then had a career as a boxer. She is a loner simply because she does not think that she has anything to offer in a relationship. She really wants to make a difference with youth so she becomes a social worker and helps street kids find their way. But then someone is targeting her kids and luring them to an underground political group whose actions protests are becoming increasingly more provocative and dangerous. 

Ali Clarke, Jordan’s first love and first broken heart, walks back into her life and becomes involved with the youth boxing program and Jordan becomes torn between past and present. More than anything, she is dedicated to keeping her kids safe but once again she finds herself fighting her old fear that she would never be good enough. At the same time, she wants to believe that there might be a chance of a future with Ali.

Jordan has used her winnings from her boxing career to start and run a boxing gym for kids who are in and out of the system. However, when a corporate wants to invest in something that reflects social responsibility, her gym is chosen as the recipient. It just so happens that the person representing the company is Ali. Suddenly, a strange and unusual symbol starts makes an appearance and it seems to involve the kids that come to Jordan’s gym.

Jordan is a well-drawn and powerful character in this story and everything revolves around her. Do not let the title fool you. Jordan was once a boxer but this story takes place after that career ended and is really about social workers and the work that they do. (Hopefully they work harder than the supposed social worker I have helping me with housing here).

The major characters in the book are a cross-section of what one might find in the world of social work. Helen is a militant social worker who harbors ill feelings for those who waste the resources she has to offer. There is Rachel, a cop who often has to find a delicate balance between the duties of her job and helping out the kids who can’t find their places in society and there is Madi, a survivor of the system who is fighting to find her place.

This could have been a very heavy story and we all know how depressing it is to read about kids who need help. Jessica Webb chooses a different way of writing and it is effective and filled with hope.

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