In Tumble, we meet 12-year-old Addie, who lives with her pregnant mom and stepdad. Her stepdad wants to adopt her (but only if she wants) and Addie loves him but can’t shake the curiosity about her biological father, especially because her mom is so hush-hush about it. While investigating, she discovers that her father is part of a famous wrestling family living on a nearby New Mexico ranch. As Addy gets to know her father, Manny, her cousins, grandparents, and uncles, she learns that family can be complicated.
I liked the unique plot of this story and found Addie to be a strong-willed, realistic character. She has a warm relationship with her family, but there’s understandably tension as neither her stepfather nor her mother are open about Addie’s father and why he isn’t in her life. Addie’s family also runs a restaurant where she spends a lot of her time.
The inclusion of wrestling and Addie getting to meet her father’s family makes this book a sweet read. I also enjoyed the investigative process of locating her father and his family. She uses the library, yearbooks, old photos and even biographies to learn more about them.
When she finally finds them and her mom lets her spend time with them, a new window is open and she discovers new family issues like a history of absentee fathers, toxic masculinity, women being relegated to the background and so much more.
Ultimately, the most moving part of the story is the way Addie navigates the fact that her father’s dreams may be too big for him to even see her or be in her life the way she wants.
Tumble is a poignant, exciting, and heartrending middle grade book about family secrets, wrestling culture, and identity. This unique middle grade book highlights the challenges of growing up with an absent biological parent and finding one’s place in a new family. This is a solid tween novel with a determined heroine and strong ties to Latin-American culture.
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