Alfred C. Martino, Author . Harcourt $17 (306p) ISBN 978-0-15-205355-0

Martino takes readers inside the dramatic world of wrestling in this gritty debut novel that winningly parallels the struggles of competing for a state athletic title and of becoming a man. Seniors Ivan Korske and Bobby Zane are among the top high school wrestlers in New Jersey, and both boys will give everything to walk away with the top prize. Endless hours of intense training, strict "weight cutting" (a strategy for dropping to a lower weight-class) and general sacrifice fill their days. Life away from the mat isn't much easier. Quick to fly off the handle, Ivan is still reeling from his mother's recent death and bristles at his overworked father's cool manner. Bobby is emotionally tense and protective of his younger brother as their parents' bitter fights lead to a separation. And both Ivan and Bobby experience the typical surge of teenage hormones and first love. Though they couldn't be more different, their worlds intersect when their paths lead them to the mat in a final match for the state title. Martino's pacing bogs down in the details in a couple spots and Bobby's relationship with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks borders on cliché. But wrestling fans will appreciate the precise description of the moves, and the discovery of each competitor's back story makes the sports angle that much more compelling. However, readers may be disappointed that they do not get to witness the fight for the title. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 6 pages - 978-1-59316-044-9
Paperback - 306 pages - 978-0-15-205631-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-60252-488-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-4294-8064-2
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-547-56424-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-4237-7951-3
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