Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Pinned* by Alfred C. Martino - young adult book review

by Alfred C. Martino
Young adult 320 pages Harcourt Children's February 2005 Hardcover    

Ivan Korske and Bobby Zane are New Jersey’s premier high school wrestlers. When a state champion is crowned at the end of the season, it will be one of these two very different young men.

Working-class Ivan lives in the family farmhouse with his father as they try to work their way around the huge gap left by his mother’s death. Bobby spends his time in more pampered, yet cold, surroundings as the relationship between his mother and father begins to crumble. While Bobby is obviously his school’s top wrestler, he is also the well-respected captain of a promising team lead by an inspiring coach. Ivan, however, is his team’s lone championship-caliber wrestler. He can barely contain his disdain for his coach and his teammates, a feeling that is largely mutual. Perhaps the only thing they have in common is how much they want that state title.

Alternating chapters highlight the disparities between the two wrestlers’ experiences without breaking the flow of the narrative in a distracting way. Ivan and Bobby aren’t always likeable as they turn away friends and family with their single-minded devotion to winning the championship, but even their worst actions make a twisted sort of sense in light of their ultimate goal. The author’s biographical information touts his wrestling experience and sports writing credentials, and it shows. This is a gripping sports story with authentic details and a play-by-play feel every time the characters step out onto the mat.

As it all comes down to the final match, readers are bound to have an opinion on who deserves the win more and who needs it more, and the answers might not be the same. On a personal level, I’m left feeling unsure about the ending. I’m torn between whether it was a cop-out or the only true way to finish the story.

Sports books sometimes occupy a sort of ghetto in the world of young adult literature. They are classified as being for “reluctant readers” and are only handed out to students who play sports when it is time for free reading. That is not to say that a reluctant reader on the wrestling team wouldn’t love this book, but classifying it solely as a book about wrestling does it a great disservice. This is a story of dedication, grief, love, lust, friendship, betrayal, pride, redemption and so many other universal ideals. Hopefully this will be the first of many such books from Martino.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Lorie Witkop/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (