BOOK FORMAT: Audio CD # OF TAPES/CDs: 6
PUBLISHER: Listen and Live PUB DATE: 2005
Grade 8 Up - Alternating story lines converge to introduce two very different, talented but flawed high school athletes whose sports careers peak when they meet in the finals of the 129-pound division of the New Jersey State Wrestling Championship. Bobby's dad is a lawyer, his mom a successful real-estate agent. He attends an affluent suburban school with a winning wrestling tradition and a first-class coach. As his season progresses, Bobby blossoms, becoming smooth, quick, and strong. Ivan, in contrast, mourns his recently deceased mother, chafes under the thumb of his old-school Polish papa, and seethes with unspoken anger. He is an outcast even on his own team, a brutish and intimidating force on the mat. Despising his coach, Ivan pins his hopes on a scholarship to take him far away from his depressing blue-collar town. Ivan adores Shelley, the devoted girl next door, while Bobby lusts after Carmelina, whom he met at the mall. Bobby gets her pregnant, which, along with the breakup of his parents' marriage, adds stress to his already taxed, starved, driven body. There is an uneven quality to the writing, which, like the athletes and the language they use, is a bit raw. But the portrayal of the dedication required and the varied motivations of student athletes is certainly on target. Many teens will identify with the boys' struggles both on and off the mat. Some readers may be irritated at the inconclusive, yet perhaps inevitable, ending, but this book is really about getting to the finals.