Review of Tumble

by Celia C. Pérez
Intermediate, Middle School    Kokila/Penguin    368 pp.    g
8/22    978-0-593-32517-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-32519-3    $10.99
Spanish paper ed.  978-1-64473-592-3    $12.95

Twelve-year-old Adela Ramírez has a loving family, a robust middle-school life, and an awesome best friend in her small New Mexico town, known for its love of wrestling: “Roswell had its aliens. Albuquerque had its hot air balloons. We had wrestling.” Her paleontologist mom is expecting her second child, and her warm and supportive diner-owning stepdad has just asked to legally adopt her. This seemingly positive “happily ever after” gesture only dredges up and intensifies Adela’s frustration at not knowing anything about her biological father, whom her mother refuses to talk about. The determined girl, along with her bestie Cy, starts investigating and piecing together bits of her past. She soon discovers that her father is a well-known professional wrestler named Manny “The Mountain” Bravo, and she subsequently meets the whole Bravo clan. Both of her grandparents were one-time world champions, and their kids, and a few grandkids, were and are fearsome competitors. Adela loves mythology and draws parallels from it to wrestling’s celebrity allure and peripatetic lifestyle. Pérez (The First Rule of Punk, rev. 7/17; Strange Birds, rev. 9/19) captures the action, rigor, and theater associated with the sport—full of colorful costumes and lucha libre masks, unpredictable moves and hijinks, and characters’ ever-changing personae. It all acts as an engaging backdrop to this story of family lost and found and of making amends. Manny may not be the biological father Adela had wanted him to be, but she is glad to have met him and made room for him and the Bravo dynasty in her heart. Available in Spanish as Tumbos (forthcoming in October).

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Luann Toth
Luann Toth

Luann Toth is a former reviews editor at School Library Journal. She holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

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