Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
Kyle Bailey lives with his grandmother, Chantal. He has lived with her since his mother left him there at age four because she realized she wasn't "mother" material. His father has never been in the picture because he was simply a sperm donor from the local sperm bank.
Despite the unusual family situation, Kyle has done well. He is a high school senior and could be on his way to college, but he has other plans. Kyle wants to be a professional wrestler - the WWE kind that is on TV and really act more than wrestle. Unknown to his grandmother or any of his friends, he has enrolled in a wrestling training class, and he is doing quite well.
A local gym is the setting for much of the first half of the novel. Jeff, the instructor, is working with seven students, including one girl. He says Kyle is the most talented beginner he's ever come across. The motley group of students includes talented Kyle, hotshot Danny, hard-working Ben, "elderly" Hector, and the beautiful Ophelia. The training is physical, brutal, and exhausting, and the competition is stiff. Everyone hopes to be recognized by Rat Boy, the owner of the local Gold Coast Wrestling.
Kyle can't believe it when Ophelia shows a romantic interest in him. It just seems to add a little extra sweetness to his ultimate dream. Ophelia even loves his grandmother and spends increasing amounts of time as part of their little family; so much time, that she agrees with Kyle when he begins to notice his grandmother's behavior is changing in disturbing ways.
HEADLOCK by Joyce Sweeney will satisfy many readers. The plot is multi-layered with wrestling action, Kyle's first love, his absent and eccentric mother, and worry about the growing forgetfulness of his grandmother. HEADLOCK is a true page-turner much like Sweeney's previous novels, PLAYERS and TAKEDOWN.