One Shot Away: A Wrestling Story

One Shot Away: A Wrestling Story

4.3 6
by T. Glen Coughlin

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They're all just one shot away

It's senior year and the last season for Diggy, Jimmy, and Trevor on the Molly Pitcher High School varsity wrestling team. And they all want the same thing: to win.

But Diggy's got to compete with his older brother's legacy, and now he's in danger of losing his spot to the newcomer, Trevor. Not to mention he's got girl


They're all just one shot away

It's senior year and the last season for Diggy, Jimmy, and Trevor on the Molly Pitcher High School varsity wrestling team. And they all want the same thing: to win.

But Diggy's got to compete with his older brother's legacy, and now he's in danger of losing his spot to the newcomer, Trevor. Not to mention he's got girl problems. Jimmy's got the cops on his tail and a girlfriend who looks down on him. Then Diggy does the unthinkable—he betrays a teammate. Can the team forgive him? And can he forgive himself?

With the pressure building and loyalties splintering, Diggy, Jimmy, and Trevor have got one shot to make weight and get onto the mat. Because pinning your opponent is about more than just winning.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Three high school wrestlers enter their senior year vying for a winning record that will allow them to get out of their town and move on with their lives. Jimmy O'Shea is trying to escape his father's illegal business deals before it is known that he was forced into taking part. Protecting his father and his mother proves to be more difficult than the wrestling moves on the mat. Trevor Crow's father has died in a car accident and his mother is now dating a new man. Trevor is holding onto his father's memory by reliving his father's wrestling career. As a Native American, Trevor is also searching for his own identity amidst the jokes and jeers of high school classmates. The lead jokester is Diggy Masters, the younger brother of Molly Pitcher High School Wall of Champions wrestler, Nick. Their father pushes him to join his brother on the Wall, but it looks like Trevor is going to be standing in his way. After the initial wrestling bout for weight class ends up in stitches for Diggy, he swears that Trevor will pay and begins a series of events that almost kills his teammate. This is a gritty novel, with language and violence, broken dreams and ill-advised desires. The sub plot of boys and their fathers is also not a gentle one, but then, wrestling does not favor the timid. There is a fine line between aggression and destruction and this novel demonstrates what happens when the two are confused. For high school readers only. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Three wrestlers want to pull themselves up out of crummy existences to become champions. Trevor's father died, so he and his mother have moved into the motel she manages at the behest of her boss. Jimmy wants to be a PE teacher, but he is balancing a pretty girlfriend with medical aspirations with a shady father who drags him along on a lumber theft, and now the cops are sniffing around. Diggy cheats at wrestling in a bid to live up to his older brother's past success and is looking at his first real romance with team manager, Jane the Stain, so called because of the birthmark on her face and a tainted reputation. Trevor and Diggy are vying for the same weight class. As each guy works through his issues with his father, girls, and his teammates, Coughlin straddles the line between gritty and sobering, allowing very little sun (or heart) to shine onto the wrestling mat. It mostly works because of the competitive environment, but there are very few root-able characters. Coughlin goes out of his way to show them in as harsh a light as possible. He is most enamored of Diggy, who appears to be unlikable on purpose, a tragic hero, a cautionary tale, but it does not make for a pleasant experience. Wrestlers might eat up the story, while the rest of us get close enough to smell the sweat and get the blood splatter, but find it is not really a place we want to be. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
Kirkus Reviews
Three wrestlers in their senior year and last season are desperate to leave their unhappy lives behind as they compete with each other and themselves in this gritty story. Trevor is haunted by his father, who died the year before, and angry at his mother, who moves them into the seedy motel she manages for a friend. Jimmy aspires to become a teacher and coach, but he's saddled with an abusive, alcoholic father who steals building supplies. Overwhelmed by pressure to live up to his older brother's past success, Diggy cheats at wrestling. The three also work through complicated relationships with girlfriends. Trevor and Diggy vie for the same weight class, and Trevor's displacement of Diggy prompts a betrayal that threatens to destroy the team. The characters have equal measures of positive and negative attributes, but none are likable. Coughlin's passion for and knowledge of wrestling is apparent in this fast-paced, vivid narrative that is often compelling but never light. This novel will inevitably appeal to boys, especially fans of stories in which sports figures prominently. A compelling story, but a dark, heavy and humorless one without much hope. (Fiction. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—New Jersey high school seniors Trevor, Jimmy, and Diggy are troubled teammates on the varsity wrestling team. Trevor is dealing with his father's death in a car accident and his mother's new relationship with their landlord. Team captain Jimmy is tormented by guilt after reluctantly helping his father steal lumber from a construction site. Diggy rebels against his father's relentless physical and verbal abuse about his weight, performance, and his older brother's wrestling stardom. Trevor defeats Diggy in a weight-class challenge, bumping him to a heavier class. Infuriated, the teen breaks team rules and seeks revenge by stealing Trevor's beloved dog. Jimmy joins Trevor in his search for the pet, which leads to a brutal, almost fatal, confrontation. This story unfolds in alternating chapters from each boy's perspective. Although wrestling is the connection, motivator, and potential scholarship source for the protagonists, their tumultuous personal lives, parental conflicts, and insecure relationships with girlfriends overshadow the few sports moments. Adult role models are practically nonexistent. This somber tale includes vivid adolescent characters, intense confrontations, gritty dialogue, sexual encounters, and life after high school angst.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

T. Glen Coughlin is the acclaimed author of two novels, The Hero of New York and Steady Eddie, as well as a number of short stories. An avid wrestling enthusiast, Glen began attending matches and tournaments in 2002 when his son started wrestling as a high school freshman. He still actively follows high school and college wrestling. He was raised in New York and currently lives in New Jersey with his family.

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One Shot Away: A Wrestling Story 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In this gripping YA novel three boys fight to be champions both on and off the wrestling mat. Whether it's learning to make peace with your father, getting along with a teammate, keeping a girlfriend or coping with a death in the family, the boys in this novel face intensely real problems. This is a page turner. It's exciting and heartwarming and it gets to the heart of what being a winner really means. I guarantee that teens of all ages, whether they wrestle or not, will love this simple yet powerful story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my brother because he wrestles. We both read it and I was really surprised at how much I liked this story. It's about these 3 boys on the same team who have to prove to themselves that they can make it in wrestling and in life. It has some cool scenes between Diggy, one of the main characters, and his girlfriend, Jane, who I liked a lot. My brother and I give this book 5 stars. We loved it!!
ChrisS94 More than 1 year ago
I never wrestled in my life. I've gone to some of the matches in my High School but never really understood what was going on out on the mat and how much work it took to be a wrestler. I think One Shot Away let me know what it would be like to be a wrestler. The stuff Jimmy, Trevor, and Diggy go through is pretty rough, but I believed it. I really liked Diggy and the way he got into his girlfriend, Jane. When I finished reading, I felt like I knew Jimmy, Trevor, and Diggy. There are definitely some people similar to them in my high school. This book was really good. I absolutely loved it. I loved it for the wrestling, the relationships, the characters, and the families. 5 Stars! A must read!
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
I’ve been really interested in reading One Shot Away after finding out that it was a story about wrestling. Even though I am a teenage girl I have done a bit of wrestling and while I didn’t exactly adore the training and repetitive movements that all aim at the pin—I did adore reading One Shot Away by author T. Glen Coughlin. It was a fun read that I got into almost instantly. Wrestling does sound like more of a boy sport and a novel that focuses on it should sound like a novel that is meant more for guys and manly men than female readers. Stop! Right there! I don’t care what gender you are, if you can get your hands on One Shot Away… you better get it. One Shot Away tells the story of three different high school seniors who are all on the same wrestling team at Molly Pitcher High School. Out of these three boys they all want the same thing: To be the best wrestler on the team, get the pin and get a scholarship a.k.a. a one way ticket out of their town. This wrestling season looks like the toughest one yet for main characters Diggy, Jimmy and Trevor. Diggy wants to keep his spot at the 152 weight class and wrestle his way to the top, but it looks like his teammate Trevor is threatening everything he’s ever worked for. Diggy is struggling to make weight, his complicated relationship with Jane “the Stain” is getting him trouble he doesn’t need and Trevor seems to be doing everything in his power to take his weight class. How is it that just one year was all it took to make Trevor the varsity wrestler he is this year? Jimmy is trying to keep the cops of off his back after his father digs them both into a never-ending hole. Now the police are hassling Jimmy about what really happened the night that he and his father were both driving away with stolen supplies. Jimmy’s girlfriend Roxanne is looking down on him over the whole situation and all he wants is to stay on the team, get his scholarship and leave before his situation gets messier than it already is. Then there’s Trevor a half Native-American boy whose father just died and whose mother seems to already be moving on. Wrestling was something that Trevor and his father used to bond over, but without his father Trevor is on his own and wants to use the varsity team to prove something to himself and to everybody in school that bugs him about his heritage. But with Diggy constantly bothering him and trying to bully Trevor out of the 152 weight class, Trevor’s finding that being on the team is harder than he anticipated. Then Diggy does the unthinkable and betrays Trevor—and the team – nobody believes that they can trust Diggy after what he did. Even Diggy knows that after what he’s done everything he has ever worked for could be down the drain.  I definitely think that One Shot Away is a novel that I will always have a soft spot for in my heart. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how there should be more YA novels about combative sports and One Shot Away filled the spot in my mind that has been aching for a good novel about sports that I enjoy. Despite being about Wrestling, One Shot Away is also the story about the struggles that these three boys have to go through and the physical hardships that come with having to make weight and perform efficiently. There are also the mentality problems that come from overbearing coaches and people who expect you to be able to get out there and win like it’s no problem at all. Honestly I could write paragraphs among paragraphs about the three main characters in the novel, they’ve left me with so much to think about and enjoy. What I really enjoyed about the writing in this novel is how it’s in the third person and written in the present tense. Now, I don’t see that too often when I read, so it was very refreshing form the common third person, past tense scene. What makes the present tense so awesome for this novel is when it comes to the matches. It made every single scene feel so realistic and made the emotions and thoughts that the characters experience very believable. Every action describing takedown attempts, grips and techniques was seriously awesome. As somebody who knew what every word meant, I found it really easy to imagine the wrestling matches. To somebody who doesn’t know very much about wrestling, you may find it really hard to imagine, just a note. As the novel progressed there were a lot of moments where I would have to sit there wide-eyed. I mean honestly, from the start of the novel to the end things do spiral out of control for almost every character. They go through things that either make or break them and I do have to admit that by the time the novel concluded I sat there and felt a bit sad. After all the emotions that were conjured up inside of me, after finally getting to experience everything with the cast of characters, I couldn’t believe the novel’s ending. How final it felt, but also how nicely it summed up the entire novel. The more I think about it, I really did love this book. I’d recommend One Shot Away to fans of sports novels but mainly to readers who enjoy wrestling. Readers that are looking for a novel that will pull them in and never let go will probably love One Shot Away, definitely one of the best stories I’ve read this year. It’ll be hard for anybody and any novel to top One Shot Away after reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To much swering in this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago