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Staff Reviews


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

Description


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?



Product Details
ISBN: 9781799947769
ISBN-10: 1799947769
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 26th, 2021
Language: English

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Staff Picks

Fate and power collide in this epic story of war, legacy, and love. The first pages gripped me by the stomach as I hungered with Zhu, then burrowed into my bones as grudges and prejudices were revealed; finally leaving my heart cracked open between anger and love. Perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and rich historical fantasy. 

(Adult Fantasy)

- Reviewed by Jessica