Farrar. Apr. 2023. 320p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780374388454.
Gr 7 Up–Alondra lives with her guardian Teresa after her mother’s death. Making healthy relationships is a struggle for the Latinx and bisexual teen, but channeling her mother’s advice, Alondra breaks out of her introverted bubble and introduces herself to her neighbors. And thus begins a summer adventure in which four kids from the Coney Island–area set out to wrestle. Femia captures the linguistics of time and place, so the characters use contemporary vernacular. Things in this young adult world are “sick,” “dope,” “mad hot,” and “like, whatever.” Some of the dialogue between characters appears in the form of text chats, adding to the book’s authenticity. Coney Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Nathan’s hot dogs, public transportation, and visiting homes via fire escapes make New York City come to life in these pages. The ever-present heat of the city is also frequently referenced. Though Alondra learns to navigate a summer romance, the sports narrative is what primarily moves the plot forward. The novel also briefly touches on the intersections of gentrification, queer pride, financial struggles, and family relationships.
VERDICT Purchase where books that center sports as the vehicle for life lessons are popular, such as Yamile Saied Méndez’s Furia and Racquel Marie’s You Don’t Have a Shot. Teens will pick this up for the wrestling and stick around for the coming of age.

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