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  • Allie

Words to Bowl You Over

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe with bookmark

In Rufi Thorpe’s novel The Knockout Queen, Bunny, a freakishly tall volleyball player, befriends Michael, gay and closeted, when she finds him sneaking a cigarette in her backyard. Michael narrates the story of their friendship looking back on the hardships they encountered during high school, including a serious accident, the ramifications of which reverberate throughout the rest of the novel. 

I loved this book, not only for the story and characters, but for the writing. I flagged so many passages that I nearly ran out of post-its. I’m thinking of re-reading it this fall. 

Below are the words I’ve added to my lexicon since reading The Knockout Queen. You’ll find the sentence or phrase that depicts the word, the word’s definition (Oxford), and a sentence using the word myself. 


“Bunny’s very unfamiliarity with guile, her inability to dissemble to even the slightest degree, somehow gave me permission to be my unadorned self as well” (27).

Noun: sly or cunning intelligence. 

He had to admit, neither guile nor wit played a part in solving the puzzle; it was pure chance that he clinched it on the first try. 


“Even the sense memory that flooded me of the odor and weight of my textbooks seemed like sweet ambrosia” (127).

Noun: the food of the gods; something very pleasing to taste or smell. 

Origin: mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek, ‘elixir of life’, from ambrotos, “immortal”.

She held the tall mug in both hands, letting her sweater sleeves insulate her palms, as the smell of fresh coffee—black as death, but to her, life-giving ambrosia—wafted up to her nose. 


“He was nothing but a floppy, spineless concatenation of wine trivia and pretentious sushi-ordering skills dressed up as a human man and walking around” (208-209).

Noun: a series of interconnected things or events; the action of linking things together in a series. 

The concatenation of curiosity, ambition, and discipline forged the scientist’s ascent in the field. 

Thanks for joining me for Wordy Wednesday! Have you read The Knockout Queen? What did you think of it? And what words are you learning from your reading? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 



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