Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Wolfe Brothers Trilogy Series #2)

Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Wolfe Brothers Trilogy Series #2)

by Markus Zusak


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Cameron and Ruben Wolfe come from a family clinging to the ragged edge of the working class. To make money, the boys hook up with a sleazy fight promoter who sees something marketable in the untrained brothers' vulnerability. But the Wolfe brothers are fighting for more than tips and pay-off money. It soon becomes a fight for identity, for dignity, and for each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780439241885
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/28/2001
Series: Wolfe Brothers Trilogy Series , #2
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.81(w) x 8.57(h) x 0.84(d)
Lexile: 460L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 15 Years

About the Author

Markus Zusak is the award-winning author of The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, both Michael L. Printz Honor Books. Markus Zusak's writing career began in high school, where he led a "pretty internal existence. . . . I always had stories in my head. So I started writing them." He lives with his wife and two children in Sydney, Australia, where he is currently working on his new novel Bridge of Clay.

Read an Excerpt

It's Friday evening and we're watching Wheel of Fortune. It's rare for us to watch a lot of TV because we're usually fighting, doing something stupid in the backyard, or hanging around out front. Besides, we hate most of the crap on the telly anyway. The only good thing about it is that sometimes when you watch it, you can get a bright idea. Previous bright ideas we've had in the midst of TV are:
Attempting to rob a dentist.
Moving the small lounge table up onto the couch so we could play football against each other with a rolled-up pair of socks.
Going to the dog track for the first time.
Selling Sarah's busted old hair dryer to one of our neighbors for fifteen dollars.
Selling Rube's broken tape player to a guy down the street.
Selling the telly.

Obviously, we could never carry out all of the good ideas.

The dentist was a disaster (we pulled out, of course). Playing football with the socks resulted in giving Sarah a fat lip when she walked through the lounge room. (I swear it was Rube's elbow and not mine that hit her.) The dog track was fun (even though we came back twelve bucks poorer than when we left). The hair-dryer was thrown back over the fence with a note attached that said, Give us back our fifteen bucks or we'll bloody kill you, you cheating bastards. (We gave the money back the next day.) We couldn't end up finding the tape player (and the guy down the street was pretty tight anyway so I doubt we'd have got much for it). Then, last of all, there was just no way we could ever sell the TV, even though I came up with eleven good reasons why we should give the telly the chop. (They go like this:
One. In ninety-nine percent of shows, the good guys win in the end, which just isn't the truth. I mean, let's face if. In real life, the bastards win. They get all the girls, all the cash, all the everything. Two. Whenever there's a sex scene, everything goes perfectly, when really, the people in the shows should be as scared of it as me. Three. There are a thousand ads. Four. The ads are always much louder than the actual shows. Five. The news is always kind of depressing. Six. The people are all beautiful. Seven. All the best shows get the ax. For example, Northern Exposure. Have you heard of it? No? Exactly -- it got the ax years ago. Eight. Rich blokes own all the stations. Nine. The rich blokes own beautiful women as well. Ten. The reception can be a bit of a shocker at our place anyway because our aerial's shot. Eleven. They keep showing repeats of a show called Gladiators.)

The only question now is, What's today's idea? The truth is, it's more of a decision to conclude on last night, as Rube speaks over at me. He starts with an "Oi."

"Oi," he says.


"What are your thoughts?"

"On what?"

"You know what. Perry."

"We need the money."

"I know, but Mum and Dad won't let us help pay the bills."

"Yeah, but we can hold our own end up --pay our own food and stuff so everything lasts longer."

"Yeah, I s'pose."

Then Rube says it

It's decided.



He speaks the words, "We're gonna do it."


Only, we know we won't pay our own food. No. We have no intention. We're doing this for some other reason. Some other reason that wants inside us.

Now we have to wait till Monday so we can ring Perry Cole, but already, we have to think -- about everything. About other guys' fists. About the danger. About Mum and Dad finding out. About survival. A new world has arrived in our minds and we have to handle it. We have decided and there is no time to stick our tail between our legs and run. We've decided in front of the telly and that means we have to give it a shot. If we succeed, good. If we fail, it's nothing new.

Rube's thinking about it, I can tell.

Personally, I try not to.

I try to focus on the woman's brilliant legs on Wheel of Fortune. When she swivels the letters, I can see more of them, just before she turns around and smiles at me. She smiles pretty, and in that split second, I forget. I forget about Perry Cole and all those future punches. It makes me wonder, Do we spend most of our days trying to remember or forget things? Do we spend most of out time running toward or away from our lives? I don't know.

"Who y' goin' for?" Rube interrupts my thoughts, looking at the TV.

"I d' know."


"Okay then." I point. "I'll take the dopey one in the middle."

"That's the host, y' idiot."

"Is it? Well I'll take the blond one there on the end. She looks the goods."

"I[ll take the guy on the other end. The one who looks like he just escaped from Long Bay Jail. His suit's a dead-set outrage. It's a dis-grace."

In the end it's the guy from Long Bay that wins. He gets a vacuum cleaner and has already won a trip to the Great Wall of China, from yesterday apparently. Not bad. The trip, that is. In the champion round, he misses out on a ridiculous remote control bed. In all honesty, the only thing keeping us watching is to see the woman turning the letters. I like her legs and so does Rube.

We watch.

We forget.

We know.

We know that on Monday we'll be ringing Perry Cole to tell him we're in.

"We better start training then," I tell Rube.

"I know."

Mum comes home. We don't know where Dad is.

Mum takes the compost out to the heap in the backyard.

Upon returning she says, "Something really stinks out there near the back fence. Do either of you know anything about it?"

We look at each other. "No."

"Are you sure?"

"Well," I crack under the pressure. "It was a few onions that were in our room that we forgot about. That's all."

Mum isn't surprised. She never is anymore. I think she actually accepts our stupidity as something she just can't change. Yet she still asks the question. "What were they doing in your room?" However, she walks away. I don't think she really wants to hear the answer.

When Dad arrives, we don't ask where he's been.

Steve comes in and gives us a shock by saying, "How y' goin', lads?"

"All right. You?"

"Good." Even though he still watches Dad with contempt, wishing he'd get the dole or Job Search payments or whatever you please to call it. He soon changes clothes and goes out.

Sarah comes in eating a banana Paddlepop. She smiles and gives us both a bite. We don't ask for one, but she knows. She can see our snouts itching for the gorgeous sickly cold of an iceblock in winter.

Next day, Rube and I begin training.

We get up early and run. It's dark when the alarm goes off and we take a minute or two to get out of bed, but once out, we're okay. We run together in track pants and old football jerseys and the city is awake and smoky-cold and our heartbeats jangle through the streets. We're alive. Our footsteps are folded neatly, one after the other. Rube's curly hair collides with sunlight. The light steps at us between the buildings. The train line is fresh and sweet and the grass in Belmore Park has the echoes of dew still on it. Our hands are cold. Our veins are warm. Our throats suck in the winter breath of the city, and I imagine people still in bed, dreaming. To me, it feels good. Good city. Good world, with two wolves running through it, looking for the fresh meat of their lives. Chasing it. Chasing hard, even though they fear it. They run anyway.

"Y' awake, Rube?"


"Jeez, I'm a bit sore, ay. This runnin' in the mornings isn't much chop for the ol' legs."

"I know -- mine are sore too."

"It felt good but."

"Yeah. It felt great."

"It felt like I'm not sure what. Like we've finally got something. Something to give us -- I d' know. I just don't know."



"Purpose," Rube continues. "We've finally got a reason to be here. We've got reason to be out on that street. We're not just out there doin' nothin'."

"That's it. That's exactly how it felt."

"I know."

"But I'm still sore as hell."

"Me too."

"So are we still runnin' again tomorrow?"


"Good." And in the darkness of our room, a smile reaches across my lips. I feel it.

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Fighting Ruben Wolfe 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
MarcusH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Portions of this review were originally posted at Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Zusak continues (from his first novel Underdog) Cameron¿s journey through adolescence as he struggles with the more adult world that surrounds him. As the novel opens, The Wolfe family faces financial hardships after Mr. Wolfe suffers a debilitating injury. This financial hardship resounds throughout the novel as both the Wolfe Brothers struggle between their boyish plots and the reality of poverty. As the family struggles emotionally and financially to endure their problems, the boys embark on an opportunity to earn money boxing. As the novel progresses it becomes clear that Ruben fights to overcome his fear of failure, while Cameron simply fights to survive and remain at his brother¿s side. Those differences create an emotional divide between the boys, but they learn that their inherited strong will to survive provides them with the identity they are both searching for.As with the other books in this series the prose is amazing and extremely relatable to males. The emotional narration and inner monologue Zusak creates is reason enough to read this book.
Kittybee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cameron and Ruben Wolfe are brothers and come from a working-class family that is barely getting by. After Ruben gets into a fight at school, they are approached by a fight promoter who asks them if they'd be interested in fighting in an illegal underground boxing competition. When they accept his offer, they end up getting so much more out of it than the extra cash that initially interested them; they discover what it means to be brothers and fighters. [[Markus Zusak]] is a writer who really impresses me. He manages to make you really care about the characters he writes about even when on the surface they don't seem to be the most likable people in the world. You aren't just reading about a family, you are part of the family so you care about them even with their imperfections.
jerm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So I finally got around to reading one of Markus Zusak¿s early books. This one is a straight up realistic fiction book, without the turns and contrivances of The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, but it¿s less exiting for it.Cameron Wolfe and his brother Ruben are struggling with the rest of their family to make ends meet, and survive the ordeal mentally. But, after Ruben gets in a fight defending his sister¿s honor, he is recruited to be part of an underground fighting ring. Cameron comes with him, and they soon find a purpose for their day to day lives.Not exactly the best book I¿ve read, and certainly not Zusak¿s best, but well written, and a decent story, and set in Australia - which is never bad.
Kid-Justice More than 1 year ago
This book was completely amazing! It was so great to see the bond between the brothers and it was beautifully poetic how he described the differences between a fighter and a winner. My absolute favorite part was when Cameron got creamed in that fight because the pretty girl was there and after she came for ruben not him and Ruben said "If you want to do this here with me, let's go. You're about worth me, but you're not worth him, you're not worth my brother"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Markus Zusak is a brilliant novelist. I could'nt put this book down from the first time I started reading it until I knew what was going to happen. I loved the conection between Cameron and Ruben. I would recomend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book about a family that is low on money. The main characters Cameron Wolfe and his brother Ruben Wolfe, need some money because their dad lost his job and they are low on cash. They try many things such as goin to the dog race track and betting but they just end up losing money instead. One day in school one kid was making fun of Ruben's dad not having a job and his sister. Ruben then gets mad and beats the kid up. A few days later the oppertunity came up where he could join a boxing team. Perry (the owner) says you get 50 dollers a match and maybe tips. This sounds great to Cameron and Ruben. Now the trouble isnt to get money anymore but to survive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Fighting Ruben Wolfe is a great story about a working class family in Australia and a family bond between two brothers and thier love for thier family. I found it hard to put down and is a well written book. The way Zusak portrays and describes the characters is well thought and planned out. I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.