If I remember correctly, this was kind of an impulse-hold at my library. By the time it arrived for me and I started it, I'd completely forgotten about it. But that just means that it was a pleasant surprise! It's so unique. The main character is a female professional wrestler in the 1950s. How cool is that? You can also tell that the author really did her homework to present an accurate picture of professional wrestling of the period.
The Sweetheart opens with a prologue that you're going to want to pay attention to. I'm the worst at barely skimming prologues; I want to get right to the meat of the book! But I actually had to go back and reread the prologue along about chapter 3 to find a missing piece of info. The entire story is set up as a flashback. It is Leonie Putzkammer/Gwen Davies/Leigh Kramer reflecting back on her time as The Sweetheart.
When I started the book, I was immediately excited about the totally unique plot. How many books do you see featuring 1950s wrestling? Especially women's wrestling! And I was not disappointed. I found myself looking up even extra info on my own, as I was so intrigued by the history. I'm not even a contemporary pro wrestling fan! This book appeals more to the reader emotionally connecting with Leonie/Gwen/Leigh than with all the finest details of the wrestling, so anyone and everyone could enjoy it.
The Sweetheart is definitely a coming-of-age book. If I remember correctly, the MC is in her very late teens when she is recruited for wrestling. As she trains for her new career and learns to fly solo while traveling, she's also learning some hard life lessons. One of those lessons: her decisions affect others, too. And sometimes people get hurt. But the reader also gets to see the MC grow and mature into quite the extraordinary young lady.
Only one little hiccup: the entire book (save the prologue and epilogue) is written as though the contemporary MC is talking to the 1950s MC. So nearly every sentence is structured so: "You go to the store and buy milk." (Not an actual book quote.) It felt quite awkward, and took me about the half the book to get used to. So just a heads up. The plot, though, was more than enough unique and interesting to keep me going!
I kept thinking to myself that this would probably make a good ladies' book club book. So there's that recommendation for you.
Overall, I'd say 3 out of 5 stars. But at the same time I'd like someone else to read it so that I could discuss it. This is the author's first book, and I'll be watching to see what she does next.
*I checked out my copy of The Sweetheart from my local library.