As he is helped by an assistant referee to prepare for a wrestling match with the neighborhood bully, Sean begins to wonder if his mentor could be his long-lost father.
Sean Bailor's sport--wrestling--is an apt metaphor for his life. Burdened by a tangle of troubles both at home and at school, he finds himself frequently at odds with the world. Sean is deeply curious about the father he never knew (an alcoholic whom his mother divorced), and has managed to convince himself that his stepfather favors his natural son. Then there's ``the Octopus,'' a local bully who keeps challenging him to fights--and winning. When an assistant referee takes an interest in Sean and begins coaching him on the side, Sean's gratitude soon turns to hero-worship and he begins to wonder if the man could possibly be his real father (he isn't). Although the story isn't a particularly deep one, and the ending is pat, this is offset by the book's potential to lure sports fans into the world of books. Christopher is well-versed in the sports story genre and he details wrestling with accuracy and color. Ages 8-12.