Eighth grader Maisie has a crush on Eric Delong (he is never referred to as just Eric. It’s Eric Delong). A girl after my own heart, she is so awkward about this situation that she panics and tries to join him on the wrestling team. Maisie takes a lot of heat – her teammates ostracize her, their parents threaten her, and almost no one will actually wrestle her. Even Maisie’s not that into it at the beginning, because it’s hard and the coach is mean and she was actually quite good at basketball. But, bless her heart, once everyone tells her no, she is hell-bent on staying on that team.
Does Maisie get a happy ending? It depends how you look at it. She does stay on the team (win), but her opponents forfeit almost every match (loss). She gets a date with Eric Delong (win), during which he attempts to sexually assault her (loss). Her best friend ditches her for a bitchy cheerleader (draw – Holly sucked anyway). But she finishes what she started, wins over a few naysayers and takes exactly zero shit from anyone, so in my book Maisie gets the W.
My mom consistently bought me books that fell into one or both of the following categories: 1) Holocaust/Israel and 2) strong female protagonist. Maisie’s list of headaches thankfully does not include Nazis, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that TAGINM features several tough broads. Maisie’s mom, first of all, is a BAMF. She has no time for teenage drama, but is creatively supportive when Maisie really needs her. PK, Maisie’s curiously-named younger sister, is another high point. Don’t let the hippopotamus slippers fool you – PK will cut a bitch who messes with her big sister.
One interesting note on the reread: As a teenager, I didn’t think much about Maisie’s decision to go out for wrestling. As an adult, I'm shooting her a pretty significant side-eye for some of her life choices. That’s something to keep in mind, though, because I’m not the intended audience for this book. It’s a good reminder that sometimes things aren’t really an issue until we adults make it one.