The Sweetheart

A Novel

The Sweetheart

In a “powerful tale of a person’s capacity for reinvention” (Kirkus Reviews), a teenage girl from Philadelphia leaves her old life behind to become The Sweetheart, one of America’s most infamous female wrestlers.

It’s 1953 and seventeen-year-old Leonie Putzkammer feels destined to spend the rest of her life waiting tables and living with her widowed father, Franz, in their Philadelphia row house. Until the day legendary wrestling promoter Salvatore Costantini walks into the local diner and offers her the chance to make a name for herself in the ring.

Leonie sets off for Florida to train at Joe Pospisil’s School for Lady Grappling. There, she transforms into Gorgeous Gwen Davies, tag-team partner of legendary Screaming Mimi Hollander, and begins a romance with the soon-to-be Junior Heavyweight Champion Spider McGee. But when life as Gorgeous Gwen leaves her wanting more, she orchestrates a move that will catapult her from heel to hero: she becomes The Sweetheart, a choice that attracts the fans she desires but complicates all of her relationships—with Franz, Joe, Spider, Mimi (who becomes her fiercest competitor), and even with herself.

Asking the big questions about what it means to grow up, and stay true to yourself, The Sweetheart is daring, innovative, and powerful storytelling. “With a debut both endearing and enjoyable, this is a hands-down winner” (Star-Telegram, Dallas).
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476733906 | 
  • January 2016
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Sweetheart includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

“An engrossing portrait of the little-known world of women’s wrestling, with questions about the nature of stardom and showing love. . . . There’s much here for book clubs to discuss.”

–Library Journal

It’s 1953, and seventeen-year-old Leonie Putzkammer’s life is at a standstill, until one day legendary wrestling promoter Salvatore Costantini walks into the local diner where Leonie works and offers her the chance of a lifetime: with her talent, she can make a name for herself in the wrestling ring.

Leonie sets off for Florida to train at Joe Pospisil’s School for Lady Grappling. There she transforms into Gorgeous Gwen Davies, tag-team partner of legendary Screaming Mimi Hollander, and she begins a romance with soon-to-be Junior Heavyweight Champion Spider McGee. When life as Gorgeous Gwen leaves her wanting, she orchestrates a move that will catapult her from heel to hero: she becomes The Sweetheart, a choice that attracts the fans she desires but complicates all of her relationships—with Franz, see more

Articles About This Book

Off the shelf vertical blog post

Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Anthony Parisi

You don’t often come across novels about professional wrestling. And novels about women’s wrestling, in particular, are few and far between. So Angelina Mirabella’s debut novel, The Sweetheart, is an instant standout. This story takes place long...

About the Author

Angelina Mirabella

Angelina Mirabella received her Master of Arts in English (Creative Writing) from Florida State University in 2003. Her work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Mid-American Review, and The Greensboro Review. In 2007, she attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference as a Tennessee Williams scholar. She lives in Ithaca, New York, with her husband and two daughters. The Sweetheart is her first novel.

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