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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Wrestling with Tradition by Dale Stopperan is a sports drama that takes readers to a small town in Iowa called Cresco. It follows Tom Kilmer, who comes in to replace the renowned wrestling coach who had brought a lot of success to the town. Can Tom continue the tradition and keep the flame high or will the town know loss for the first time in the upcoming competitions? During the first year, the Cresco Spartans experience their first loss in almost three decades. While the community has to deal with the loss, the wrestlers and their families struggle with problems, and soon the young coach becomes a strong inspiration and support for the community.
It is interesting how the author builds the threads that hold this community together, writing characters that are relatable and real, each with a solid background. Readers will encounter compelling characters like Drew Parker, who has kept the title for the best athlete that Cresco High School ever produced; Jose who learned to fight in the labor camps, sometimes for fun but most of the time to protect his belongings and, at times, his family; Bing Natvig who owns the title of king or best wrestler for the team. Other interesting characters are Spider Westby, Beaner, Charlie, Jose, and Sheriff John Haley.
This novel is a wonderful story that will grab fans of sports. It is not just a tale about a hero; it is the story of a community, and Cresco High School becomes the center and pulse of this rural community. It explores how a sporting activity can keep a community together. Dale Stopperan creates dialogues that are wonderful and features the kind of banter that reflects the world of the characters. The prose is gorgeous and sprinkled with vivid descriptions. Focused and well-crafted scenes, exciting dialogues, action, and emotionally rich characters are a few of the elements that elevate the quality of this narrative, turning it into a gripping story.