Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines (Published by Bloomsbury, October 13, 2009)
Eighteen-year-old Lyn is the daughter of a gladiator father and a mother who made marrying gladiators her career, enabling her to provide a comfortable lifestyle for herself, Lyn, and Lyn‘s younger brother Thad, who has special needs. Her birth father, and several stepfathers, were all gladiators who were killed in combat. Lyn dislikes the gladiator world, and unlike her mother, would like to leave that world, and make a home for herself and Thad away from all the violence and media attention.
When Lyn’s current stepfather is killed in combat, Lyn must make a terrible decision. Her mother will not be allowed to marry an eighth time, which means her family will lose the financial support of the Gladiator Sports Association, support that is especially needed to care for Thad. However, to help her family, Lyn could marry the man who killed her stepfather - or face him in a fight to the death.
Girl in the Arena is set in an alternate version of present day Massachusetts, a world that is much like our own except for the gladiators, of course. If you can accept the concept of gladiators in the modern United States, the book is a compelling story that raises some disturbing questions about the acceptance of violence as a form of entertainment. Lyn is a sympathetic character as she is torn between her disdain of the gladiator lifestyle and her obligation to care for her young brother. I expected more of an action book and while there is some action this book is more of a social commentary. This is the first book by author Lise Haines, and I definitely think she shows a lot of promise. I will be keeping an eye out for future books by her.