Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Wallace, Matt. Bump
January 26th 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

MJ is having a hard time of it. Her father is no longer with the family, and because of this, she and her mother have moved to a smaller apartment. At school, members of the gymnastics team are nasty to her, and since she isn't participating any more, she's finding it hard to find friends to sit with at lunch. When she realizes that there is a wrestling ring in her neighbor's yar, she goes to investigate, only to have Mr. Arrelano yell at her. He later comes to apologize, and MJ, who has watched lucha libre wrestling avidly for a long time, is thrilled that he runs a wrestling school called Victory Academy. Even though she is young and small, she convinces "Papi" (Mr. Arrelano) to let her train. Her mother isn't thrilled, but lets her do it. The training is everything that MJ wants, and even the sore muscles from "bumping" (falling onto the floor in order to avoid injury). Eventually, she enters a fight because someone is unable to make it, and her use of gymnastics causes the video of the event to go viral. This causes a lot of mixed emotions-- some other wrestlers are jealous, Papi is worried about her safety, and MJ herself is afraid to let her mother know how much she is wrestling. Mr. Corto, who has been fining the gym for numerous minor infractions and trying to close it down, decides that MJ is being endangered after she almost catches someone releasing rats at the gym, and tries to close down Victory Academy. Can MJ make peace with her father's absence, the mean girls at school, and her participation in wrestling while trying to solve the mystery behind the threats to the gym. 
Strengths: MJ was a really well balanced, out spoken character who knew what she wanted and tried everything she could to make it happen. I love characters like that. She has some issues with loss and grief to deal with, but does so (eventually) in a constructive way. There are tons of details about wrestling-- practice, techniques, competitions-- that clearly show Mr. Wallace's experience with the sport. The mystery of the gym being sabotaged adds a nice extra layer. I loved MJ's mom, and thought she was realistically portrayed. 
Weaknesses: Mr. Corto was a bit over-the-top evil for me, but the target demographic is much fonder of clear cut villains than I am. 
What I really think: I really enjoyed this, but I don't know that my students will have any idea what luche libre wrestling is. Because of the title, I kept thinking this was about volleyball. THAT'S a topic that is much in demand but for which there are hardly any books. 

Ms. Yingling

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