Headlock

Joyce Sweeney, Author
Joyce Sweeney, Author . Holt $16.95 (214p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8018-6
Reviewed on: 11/27/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4668-7443-5
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An 18-year-old trades gymnastics for a professional wrestling class—pursuing a chance to become "a WWE superstar"—in Sweeney's latest novel, which makes the world of wrestling as fascinating a backdrop as basketball was in her Players . In class, Kyle Bailey finds a strange community, including an ex-con and a librarian; he even starts dating the lone female. Kyle also finds that he excels at professional wrestling's blend of "acting and dance and acrobatics." But right after his debut performance in a wrestling show, Kyle's grandmother, who raised him, is hospitalized. When Kyle puts everything on hold to care for her, he begins to realize that he could lose everything. The author lovingly describes an unusual subculture here (in Kyle's debut match, he is scripted to lose to Rat Boy, who celebrates victories by letting his pet rat crawl over his opponent). Even though the story arc is fairly obvious, readers will relate to Kyle, who was abandoned by his own mother, and so feels compelled to sacrifice his life for his grandmother. Readers may have trouble believing that such unusual characters could bond so quickly, or that serious problems, including Kyle's girlfriend's drinking, or his tense relationship with his mother, could resolve as easily as they do here. But Kyle's "big soft heart"—and his amazing frog splash move on the mat—makes for a quirky combination that readers, especially wrestling fans, are sure to enjoy. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

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