Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Sweetheart by Angelina Mirabella

"The Turnip and I have a history. Many decades ago, when he was a little boy and his folks were newly split, my sister left him with our parents and came to Memphis to live with me for a short while. It was only two months and just the medicine she needed, quite frankly, but he has held it against me ever since." Opening Sentences

Synopsis: A debut, coming-of-age novel in which a teenage girl from Philadelphia leaves her old life behind to become The Sweetheart, one of America’s most infamous female wrestlers. It’s 1953 and seventeen-year-oldLeonie Putzkammer is cartoonishly tall and curvaceous, destined to spend the rest of her life waiting tables and living with her widowed father, Franz, in their Philadelphia row house. Until the day legendary wrestling promoter Salvatore Costantini walks into the local diner and offers her the chance of a lifetime. Leonie sets off for Florida to train at Joe Pospisil’s School for Lady Grappling. There, she transforms into Gorgeous Gwen Davies, tag-team partner of legendary Screaming Mimi Hollander, and begins a romance with the soon-to-be Junior Heavyweight Champion Spider McGee. But when life as Gorgeous Gwen leaves her wanting, she orchestrates a move that will catapult her from heel to hero: she becomes The Sweetheart, a choice that attracts the fans she desires but complicates all of her relationships—with Franz, Joe, Spider, Mimi (who becomes her fiercest competitor), and even with herself. Angelina Mirabella’s surprising, affecting, and morally complex novel describes how a single decision can ripple through the lives of everyone around us. How Leonie sizes up the competition, how she triumphs, how she fails, and how she manages, somehow, to endure, holds promise: if she can, maybe we can, too. The Sweetheart showcases Mirabella’s breathtaking talent; it is daring, innovative, and powerful storytelling.

Review by Mirella Patzer

THE SWEETHEART is a very unique novel, not only due to the subject matter, but also because it is written in second person narrative. It's a coming of age story set in the 1950's where a gawky, awkward teenager is inadvertently drawn into the women's wrestling scene. It's a story about risk taking, self-confidence, and ambition. Most of all, it is about accepting yourself for who you are and for not being afraid to show it. This is fine women's fiction written in an unusual way, but that stirs plenty of emotion with a sprinking of humor and heartbreak along the way, 

Author Angelina Mirabella did an outstanding job of describing the wrestling matches, as well as the business side and all the politics that come with it. She did not shy away from the realities of the ring including the sustaining of injuries. Most of all, it is a love story. I found it easy to get wrapped up in the story which kept me entertained right up the satisfying ending. This is an excellent book to pick up if you like exploring different topics and clever writing styles. 

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