Matt Wallace’s middle grade debut is a fast-paced dynamic story of 12-year old MJ who dreams of becoming a lucha libre – or wrestler. This unconventional sport has been shared & loved with MJ’s dad, Papi, who is now no longer in MJ and her mom’s life. Hiding the truth from herself (& readers), MJ goes to great lengths to avoid seeing her dad. MJ’s poor treatment by her former gymnastic teammates has alienated her as well as the struggling to make sense of middle school dynamics. Finding an outlet for her joy, friendship and a chance of being in the ring wrestling to “storytell”, her next door neighbor, Mr. Arellano, has offered her a chance to train at his wrestling academy. I was totally enthralled by the deep character development and uber-realistic scenes Wallace has painted with respect to MJ’s relationship with her now-single parent Mom as well as the wrestling basics & behind-the-scene techniques. The secondary plot of a cruel and vengeful athletic commissioner who wants to shut down Mr. Arellano’s academy leads to a hair-raising climax where MJ needs to save the day. Girls who enjoy sports that may not be typically portrayed in MG literature will shout for joy with MJ’s perseverance, her can-do attitude, as well as her vulnerabilities. This novel rings as true as the bell at the end of a match – A WINNER!
— From Staff Picks by Maureen
A moving and triumphant middle grade contemporary debut from award-winning author Matt Wallace about a heroic young girl—who dreams of becoming a pro wrestler—learning to find courage and fight for what she loves. Perfect for fans of Kelly Yang, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds' Track series!
MJ knows what it means to hurt. Bruises from gymnastics heal, but big hurts—like her dad not being around anymore—don’t go away. Now her mom needs to work two jobs, and MJ doesn’t have friends at school to lean on.
There is only one thing MJ loves: the world of professional wrestling. She especially idolizes the luchadores and the stories they tell in the ring. When MJ learns that her neighbor, Mr. Arellano, runs a wrestling school, she has a new mission in life: join the school, train hard, and become a wrestler.
But trouble lies ahead. After wrestling in a showcase event, MJ attracts the attention of Mr. Arellano’s enemy at the State Athletic Commission. There are threats to shut the school down, putting MJ’s new home—and the community that welcomed her—at risk. What can MJ do to save her new family?
— Greg van Eekhout, author of Voyage of the Dogs and Cog
“I love kids with big dreams, and MJ is a heroine to root for. Bump introduces readers to the world of professional wrestling while also telling a story about grief, friends that become family, and finding your voice. An entertaining and heartwarming read!”
— Janae Marks, author of From the Desk of Zoe Washington
"Matt Wallace makes every pro-wrestling fan's dream come true in Bump. Not only does he know his way around a wrestling ring—he'll have you booing at the heels and cheering for the faces, just like you would ringside—but he knows how to tell a story. Middle-school gymnast turned wrestler MJ isn't just trying to find herself, but the courage to be herself, in a world where cliques, cruelty, unfairness, and grief beat you down. But Bump teaches you that, in life and Lucha, there's always a surprise move that can save you from defeat and pin your opponent—and your fears—down."
— Carlos Hernandez, Pura Belpré Award-winning author of the Sal and Gabi series
"This book did a pile drive on my heart. I was so quickly captivated by MJ as she navigated grief and excitement, fear and joy. Reading Bump is having ringside seats to a touching, hilarious story that the world so desperately needs right now."
— Mark Oshiro, author of Anger Is a Gift and Each of Us a Desert
"Adult fantasy writer Wallace draws on his own wrestling background to make MJ’s every physically punishing step forward a visceral experience for sports-story enthusiasts, and her steady movement toward independence and the acceptance of her father’s death will gratify middle grades domestic drama readers."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"The characters and events are rendered with all the beautifully unambiguous melodrama of a wrestling angle: loathsome bad guys, dramatic promos, and undeniably exciting action. Young fans will cherish gaining a deeper understanding of “sports entertainment”—and of the Mexican-wrestling tradition of lucha libre—and newcomers, too, will find in MJ a baby face worth cheering for."