Bump by Matt Wallace - MG Review

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Have any of your students ever felt like they were participating in something for someone else's benefit? Like they didn't truly belong where they were? MJ was on the gymnastics team and the girls are nasty to her since she isn't participating anymore. Struggling at school, and with issues at home (father leaving), she is finding it harder and harder to fit in at school and find friends. THEN her attention is focused on this wrestling ring in her neighbor's yard. Luca Libre wrestling is something that MJ has watched for a very long time and soon learns that her neighbor runs a wrestling school called Victory Academy. (This soon reminds me so much of Miguel on Cobra Kai, if you have seen the show) MJ's mother is not excited about her desired endeavor, but eventually allows. MJ finds herself immersed in a sport that was everything she needed in that moment, and with a coach that pushes her and she loves it (even the constant bruises and sore muscles from "bumping" - falling onto the floor to avoid injury). MJ lands her first fight and a lot of worry comes in from all directions - even Mr. Corto who has been after the gym for quite some time trying to shut it down (SEE so many Cobra Kai connections your students could be making). MJ has to find strength and courage to battle her own demons while trying to keep the gym from getting shut down. 

Themes for the classroom: family dynamics, sports (wrestling), grief, mystery, "mean girls", persistence, community, finding yourself 

I will absolutely book talk Bump to my students and I know with my demographics I will have a lot of students who are interested. A lot of girls here participate in "boy" type sports. Also, a wide range of my students have knowledge of lucha libre wrestling and I know would love to read just to have something to talk about with their parents. 

Matt Wallace is the Hugo–winning author of Rencor: Life in Grudge City, the Sin du Jour series, and Savage Legion. He’s also penned over one hundred short stories in addition to writing for film and television. In his youth he traveled the world as a professional wrestler, unarmed combat, and self-defense instructor before retiring to write full-time. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Nikki. You can visit him at www.matt-wallace.com.

Wallace notes that BUMP is “the most personal book I’ve ever written.” In the ARC’s author letter, he shares that as a white man, he was inspired by his three Mexican-American nieces and wanted “to write a story in which they could see themselves…a story in which they were the hero.”

Praise for BUMP


"Matt Wallace makes every pro-wrestling fan's dream come true in Bump. Not only does he know his way around a wrestling ring—he'll have you booing at the heels and cheering for the faces, just like you would ringside—but he knows how to tell a story. Middle-school gymnast turned wrestler MJ isn't just trying to find herself, but the courage to be herself, in a world where cliques, cruelty, unfairness, and grief beat you down. But Bump teaches you that, in life and Lucha, there's always a surprise move that can save you from defeat and pin your opponent—and your fears—down."    (Carlos Hernandez, Pura Belpré Award-winning author of the Sal and Gabi series)


"This book did a pile drive on my heart. I was so quickly captivated by MJ as she navigated grief and excitement, fear and joy." (Mark Oshiro, author of Anger Is a Giftand Each of Us a Desert)


“My favorite books have two things: A world I’ve never seen before and a great character to experience it with. Bump delivers both in a heartfelt, powerful way. I loved stepping into the world of small-time professional wrestling with M.J. I winced every time she took a hit inside the ring and out, and I cheered every time she got up. What a great middle-grade debut. I truly cannot wait to see what Matt Wallace does next.”  (Greg van Eekhout, author of Voyage of the Dogs and Cog)


“I love kids with big dreams, and MJ is a heroine to root for. Bump introduces readers to the world of professional wrestling while also telling a story about grief, friends that become family, and finding your voice. An entertaining and heartwarming read!” (Janae Marks, author of From the Desk of Zoe Washington)


Praise for Wallace’s latest release, Savage Legion (July 2020)
"Smart characters and brutal action create an intriguing story about power and the decisions made to keep it." (Library Journal, starred review)

“Cunning plotting and brisk action elevate this impressive tale of swords and super-science... Wallace masterfully subverts readers’ expectations... Readers will be left thoroughly satisfied and eager to know what’s to come.”(Publishers Weekly, starred review)

    With her mom working two jobs, no friends at school, and the loss of her father, MJ finds comfort in her love for wrestling, especially her admiration for the luchadores. When she discovers her neighbor runs a nearby wrestling school, she embarks on the journey to train hard, join the school, and fulfill her dreams. When it finally seems that things are going her way, her talent draws the eye of her neighbor’s enemy at the State Athletic Commission, who threatens to shut down her school. MJ will be put to the test in a fight she hadn’t trained for– one to save the school and her new family. 

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