It’s a busy year for Melinda Drake Radford as she wrestles on the JV team—and with other challenges of her sophomore year, too.
Sometimes, Mel wishes she were a guy, or more like a guy. She envies their muscles and confidence and power. But over the course of several busy months, she does just fine as a girl, even as a girl wrestler, where on the mat “the conditions are always the same. The mats are nearly all the same dimensions. Matches are indoors. Singlets and wrestling shoes are pretty much the same. It’s just you and your opponent. For three two-minute periods.” Off the mats, the world is less predictable. Her wealthy grandmother is pushing her into the business world, her boyfriend is pushing her into the bedroom and her varsity-wrestler brother pushes her to work harder, get better. Despite flat pacing, the novel is a solid portrait of a teenage girl trying to be herself when everyone else seems to be deciding her life for her. Though wrestling is the heart of the tale, Martino wisely resists heavy-handed and inspirational sports metaphors, letting Mel’s actions speak for themselves.
There’s always a need for more sports stories for girls, and this is a solid addition to the genre. (Fiction. 13-16)