Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2018 Gr 4–7—Mikayla and Lev are two unlikely allies thrown together as wrestling partners. For Mikayla, wrestling is in her family's blood. Ever since her parents divorced, she has been determined to wrestle like her brothers in order to keep her father's attention. When she is not allowed to join her older brothers' team, the Eagles, her mom signs her up for the Gladiators. There she meets Lev, who has been steadily improving as a wrestler and has his eye on the state tournament this year. He is afraid that having a female wrestling partner will not give him the challenge he needs to get to the next level. Together they form an unlikely friendship, though always keeping in mind that only one of them can win at the end of the year. The story is heavy on wrestling action and jargon, which will please fans of the sport. Themes about building friendships, adjusting to new family situations, and weighing moral decisions add complexity. The characters are in their first year of middle school, which will appeal to both upper elementary and younger middle school audiences. VERDICT This is a solid choice for middle grade collections looking to diversify their sports fiction selections.—Carli Sauer, Carmel Middle School, IN - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/01/2018 Along with best friend Kenna, Mikayla is joining her first traveling wrestling league. Preferring to wrestle under the name Mickey, she’s angry when the coach of the Eagles, the team her brothers wrestled with, declares he won’t accept girls, and Kenna admits that she wants to join the drama club instead. With limited options, Mickey joins the Gladiators team. Lev, a Gladiator, is determined to make it to state championships this year and plans to train hard. However, he feels his goals are hampered when Coach pairs him with Mickey—a girl! Shovan has written a sports book that will appeal to all genders and non-sports-fans alike, who will be drawn into Mickey’s struggle to be seen as a wrestler (not a “female” wrestler) and Lev’s grappling with the realization that wrestling may not be his true passion. As the chapters alternate between the characters’ perspectives, readers will quickly become invested, particularly when the tweens’ goals eventually merge and they discover that a true wrestler is anyone with the courage to step on the mat. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.