Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Books I've Read: Alondra

I wouldn't call myself a wrestling fan, but something about the description of this book made me pick it up at the library the other day.  Maybe because you just don't often see stories about girls wanting to wrestle.  I think the setting also had something to do with the appeal.

Alonda is seventeen and it's summer.  It's hot.  Every day outside her apartment window she hears a trio of kids wresting in the park and longs to join them; she's a massive wrestling fan.  After covertly watching them for a while, she decides to talk to them and ask to join.  They need a fourth to even up the numbers so it just makes sense.  But Alondra is painfully shy and walks past time and time again without managing to say a word.

When she finally works up the courage to speak, the trio are not initially impressed, but Alonda sticks with it and shows them what she can do.  That impresses them enough to ask her to join them and before long Alondra is tightly enmeshed into their group.  She starts dating King, the self-proclaimed leader of the group, but she can't help looking at Lexi, her excitement growing each time they connect in the ring.

Over the course of the long, hot summer, this group of friends will wresting with each other in the ring and with their feelings out of it.

I enjoyed this book.  All the characters were well drawn and distinct and had their own lives, separate from Alonda's.  And as Alonda's confidence in herself grew, as she became more comfortable with herself and her understanding of her bisexuality, she became a way more interesting character.

I liked that the book didn't solely focus on Alonda and her understanding of herself, but showed realistically how someone's life can be made up of multiple parts and problems.  Alonda's home life with her guardian Teresa was shown as well and given as much weight as any other part of the story.

Throughout the wresting season the group develop, Alonda is searching for the perfect character, and when she comes up with it, it makes perfect sense.

This was a quick, easy read - I read the whole thing while I was waiting for the electrician to reconnect the power at my house on Sunday.  I'd recommend it, even if you're not into wresting.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

A contemporary YA debut from award-winning playwright Gina Femia, Alondra is a coming-of-age story of friendship and romance, about a bisexual teen girl and her friends wrestling their way through the summer--sometimes on the playgrounds of Coney Island, sometimes with their feelings and at home.

Sixteen-year-old Alonda loves professional wrestling. So when she meets a group of teens with aspirations of wrestling fame in her Coney Island neighborhood, she couldn’t be happier. So as the ragtag team works to put on a show to remember, Alonda sheds her old self behind and becomes Alondra ―the Fearless One. But with her conflicting feelings for King, the handsome leader of their group, and Lexi, the girl with the beautiful smile, Alonda has to ask herself: can she be as fearless outside of the ring as she is inside it?

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