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THERE'S A GIRL IN MY HAMMERLOCK by Jerry Spinelli

THERE'S A GIRL IN MY HAMMERLOCK

by Jerry Spinelli

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-74684-7
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Eighth-grader Maisie Potter's motives for going out for wrestling are mixed: though she was designated last year's best athlete, she hasn't made the cheerleading squad; and ninth-grader Eric, whom she admires from afar, is on the team. The law may be on her side in Pennsylvania, but her reception is cool; Coach Cappelli sets the tone with his abrasive mockery and grueling workouts as retribution for minor offenses. Still, Maisie's not a quitter; her perseverance and talent earn her a place on the varsity, with Cappelli becoming a fair, firm supporter as she eventually earns her team's respect--only to find that the whole cycle begins again in inter-school competition. Meanwhile, she's ostracized by most of the rest of the school and finally has a date with Eric, who turns out to be a clod. Tough as Maisie's experience is, it's a realistic best-case scenario: her parents are on her side from the beginning; she does win everyone's good will (in part because of a heroic rescue of a young neighbor in a snowstorm--a rather gratuitous addition to the plot); she achieves a lot in her sport even though she doesn't win matches; and her self-imposed ordeal confirms her self respect. Spinelli's observation of the school sporting scene is astute, his characterizations perceptive, his narrative brisk and often funny. An entertaining look at genders in collision, junior-high style. (Fiction. 11-14)