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Pinned follows Ivan Korske and Bobby Zane, two high school seniors, as they embark on the most important winter of their lives in a quest for the New Jersey state high school wrestling championship.

Ivan Korske is the pride of Lennings, a rural town tucked away in the farmlands of western Jersey, and the odds-on favorite to be crowned state champion in the 129-pound weight class. For Ivan, the stakes are impossibly high. A state championship fulfills a promise he made to his ...

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Pinned follows Ivan Korske and Bobby Zane, two high school seniors, as they embark on the most important winter of their lives in a quest for the New Jersey state high school wrestling championship.

Ivan Korske is the pride of Lennings, a rural town tucked away in the farmlands of western Jersey, and the odds-on favorite to be crowned state champion in the 129-pound weight class. For Ivan, the stakes are impossibly high. A state championship fulfills a promise he made to his mother before she passed away nine months earlier and will, perhaps, stem his father's continued withdrawal from life. But mostly, Ivan dreams of getting a scholarship to a college far from his dreary hometown. To him, anything short of the title is failure.

In Short Hills, a wealthy town on the other side of the state, Bobby Zane protects his younger brother Christopher from the fallout of their parents' impending divorce, while searching for comfort from Carmelina Carrillo, a girl from a depressed part of Newark. Despite the distractions from the intense pressures of adolescent love and the family's breakup, Bobby realizes his quest for the coveted 129-pound state title may be his only hope for salvation.

Pinned chronicles Ivan and Bobby's season-long efforts toward overcoming forces within and beyond their control toward a title that only one of them can capture!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Martino takes readers inside the world of wrestling in this gritty debut novel that winningly parallels the struggles of competing for a state athletic title and of becoming a man," said PW. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Edna Boardman
To quote the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, July 2005: Two New Jersey high school wrestlers, in their senior year, hurl their energies at the 129-pound competition in the state wrestling championship. Martino explores unsettling aspects of high school sports as the action moves between Bobby Zane in Milburn, a boy from a wealthy, divorcing family, and Ivan Korske in Lennings, whose mother has died and whose working-class father sees wrestling as a way for his son to go to college. The dirty secrets come out: wrestlers starve and dehydrate themselves to "make weight"; they practice and wrestle exhausted and sick—"No excuses." They are under pressure to achieve academically while class work becomes a nuisance. Coaches care about their young charges, but their egos become tied up with winning. Applications from universities pour in, along with phone calls pushing young athletes in ways no young person should endure. Sex and its sad consequences tempt athletes, serving as both a way to relax and gain status. This excellent story will be enjoyed by YAs who look for inside-sports adventures and seek to understand the school sports environment better. A Junior Library Guild selection.
From the Publisher
"Unsparing and told with such visceral acuity that the reader can almost feel the burn of the mat, author Martino meticulously details the kind of guts it takes to get the glory."—Kirkus Reviews
"Many teens will identify with the boys' struggles both on and off the mat."—School Library Journal
Rulon Gardner
"A great show of the drive and intensity necessary to be a champion."
Chris Crutcher
"Pinned is a tough, savvy tale that melds the hard, tough sport of wrestling with the hard, tough lives of the two young men who seem locked into each others' destinies. This one will keep you reading. Alfred Martino plays this story like a fine violin."
Joe Hofman
"Pinned does a brilliant job of capturing the lives of two standout wrestlers on the mat and in their private lives throughout their senior seasons right up to the states. Martino pins the reader down, writing the story in such a way that you won't want to put the book down until you are finished."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593163228
  • Publisher: Listen & Live Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/20/2012
  • Format: MP3 on CD

Meet the Author

Wrestling has been a part of Alfred C. Martino‘s life for thirty years. He has competed on the midget, junior high, high school (Millburn, NJ), and collegiate (Duke ’86) levels, as well as coached Millburn’s youth program for five years. He has worked as a staff reporter for the El Segundo Herald (CA) and The Beach Reporter, a combined weekly circulation of 80,000, covering high school and professional sports, including the local high school wrestling teams. He currently lives in Jersey City, NJ.

Mark Shanahan, a New York City resident, has appeared at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, off-Broadway, and on film and television. In addition to be a playwright, he had provided voices for commercials, animation, museum tours, and radio programs.

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Read an Excerpt


By Martino, Alfred C.

Harcourt Paperbacks

Copyright © 2006 Martino, Alfred C.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0152056319

Wind rapped against the bedroom window. Ivan Korske stared beyond his reflection, into the shadowy woods that surrounded the family's farmhouse. November, and its chilly prelude to winter, had long arrived. Ivan stretched a thermal shirt over his back, then pulled long johns up his thighs. A plastic rubber-suit top that crinkled when he slipped it over his head came next. Sweatpants and a sweatshirt followed.

Downstairs, a grandfather clock chimed eleven. Ivan vaguely noticed, grabbing a pair of weathered running shoes on the floor of his closet. While most Lennings High School seniors spent Sunday night on the phone, piecing together memories of the weekend's parties, Ivan prepared for his evening run.

Every night, regardless of how tired or hungry he was, Ivan ran. When his running shoes were soaked from rain, he ran. When his fingers were numb from the cold, he ran. The night his mother died last April, he ran.

The final judgment of his high school wrestling career hinged on whether he stood victorious in Jadwin Gymnasium, site of the New Jersey State Championships, the second Saturday of March. Each run, Ivan was certain, brought him that much closer to the dream of being a state champ and a chance to get away-far away-from Lennings.

Anything less would befailure.

Ivan sat at the end of his bed in the sparsely furnished room, dog tired from an afternoon of splitting logs behind the shed out back. There was a dresser and bookshelf, a wooden chair to his left, and the red and white of a small Polish flag coloring one of four otherwise bare walls. Ivan leaned over to tie the laces of his running shoes, then looked up at the photograph of his mother as a teenager in the old country-a sturdy young woman with soft, rounded cheeks and bright hazel eyes. Ivan was proud to have the same. The silver frame glinted from his meticulous care, even under the dim light of the bedroom lamp.

Ivan imagined his mother sitting beside him, as she often had the last months she was alive. "Too many chores for you," she would say. "Your father forgets you are only seventeen. I will speak with him. I know you have other interests..." She would smile and give a knowing nod toward the house across the street. "Even besides this wrestling sport."

Alone, in the chill of his bedroom, Ivan closed his eyes. He could hear her words, soothing and familiar, and see her face, robust and healthy, as they once were. He remained that way for some time.

"Ivan." His father's voice bellowed from the first floor. "Are you running now?"

Ivan held back the sadness and hardened his face with unflinching resolve, the same glare he gave opponents before a match. "I'm going."


"Yeah, Papa, now."

He grabbed his jacket from the chair, walked out of the bedroom and down the stairs, its floorboards creaking and the radiator clanking from the rush of hot water through the metal piping. The scent of chimne bottom of the staircase, Ivan zipped his jacket and stepped out the front door.

It was a clear night. A crescent moon hung just above the tree line. Ivan looked across the street at the Petersons' house. In a second-floor corner window, he saw Shelley's silhouette, head propped on an elbow, at her desk. Finishing her homework, he knew. Ivan breathed in deeply. Cold wind pressed against his body and slipped beneath his clothing. He felt alive, intensely aware of every inch of his skin, nostrils, and the full expansion of his lungs.

This is gonna be a good run.

With a shiver, Ivan started down Farmingdale Road. His running shoes bounced off the pavement edged by fields of withered grass, beyond which miles of woodlands passed in darkness. Ivan traveled back in time, as he did during every evening run.

...Lennings' first freshman varsity starter-108-pound weight class. Going against the captain from Westfield-fourth in the state the year before. Everyone talking about me. Lots of articles. Always spelling my name wrong...Scared to death in the locker room before the match...

Forgetting what to do for the fifty-four seconds it took the guy to toss me all over the mat. Struggling to get off my back, while he squeezed the half. So tight my lungs couldn't expand. Can't breathe! Can't breathe! Panic scrambling my head until, finally, giving in. Letting my shoulder blades touch the mat. The referee calling the pin, ending the nightmare...

I gave up...


Never again...

To Ivan's right, Sycamore Creek snaked its way through the woods before emptying into a pond, a stone's throw wide, where he and the Scott broth played ice hockey as kids. Six years ago, the township's new irrigation system began siphoning off water for a nearby corn farm, leaving the pond a bed of damp silt. Not that it mattered to Ivan. Shortly after, the Scotts moved away. He never heard from them again. No letters or postcards, no phone calls. They were just gone. To somewhere in Minnesota was all he knew.

A car came up behind him-illuminating the road ahead, stretching his shadow-then passed by, leaving the crimson of its taillights and the hum of its engine fading into the night.

And his wrestling memories, still raw years later, continued.

...first sophomore region champ at Lennings. Dreams of going farther. Riding a nine-match winning streak-all by pins...Quarterfinals of the states-122 pounds. Whipped by some guy from Newton. Hit a switch, and hit it hard. But the guy steps across and catches me. On my back. Fighting to get out. Then finally do. I score a reversal, later a takedown, but nothing else.

Time runs out. The humiliation of getting beat 11-4. Walking off the mat, the crowd staring at me like I'm some loser. No escape. Freezing-cold nights running. Drilling moves for hours and hours and hours. Thousands of push-ups. Thousands of sit-ups.

But I lost...

Losing tastes like crap...

Passing Wellington Farms, Ivan counted 564 steps along the length of the wooden fence. The night before it had been 573. He had logged so many miles on this road, he could run, eyes closed, and avoid all the potholes and broken pavement. Sweat coated his body, while heat trapped within the layers of his clothing insulated him from the cold. Ahead, a row of street la Street.

The center of town was desolate. Ivan passed Mr. Johnston's Florist Shop, a fixture in town for decades; Burley's Automotive; and the Starlite Deli. In the deli's front window a poster read: IVAN-BRING HOME THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP! A little farther, Ivan passed Hometown Hardware, then, at the corner, a neon sign blinked above Evergreen Tavern. The gravel parking lot was nearly full. Drinking away the last hours before another dreary week of life began, Ivan figured. He crossed the intersection, and soon, the center of Lennings was behind him. All Ivan could hear was the beat of his running shoes on the pavement and his steady, comfortable breathing.

...junior year, undefeated after twenty-four matches-fifteen by pins. Named one of the top 129-pounders by the Star-Ledger...Gonna be Lennings' first state champ. Everyone says so.

Too many newspaper articles. Too many interviews. Too many people wanting me. Too many distractions. Semifinals of the states, against last year's champ, from Highland Regional. So damn close...

Got caught in the first period, but came back in the third. Time running out. Needing a two-point reversal. Sat out, then hit the switch. Leaning back hard against the guy. He's gonna collapse. Ten seconds left...nine...





Four- The buzzer goes off as the guy collapses.

No, there's three seconds left! How'd the buzzer go off too soon? They said the timekeeper made a mistake. That's it. End of discussion.

The timekeeper screwed up.

Lost in the state semifinals.

Lost 8-7.

Copyright 2005 by A reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.


Excerpted from Pinned by Martino, Alfred C. Copyright © 2006 by Martino, Alfred C.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2013

    Amazing book

    Great book, its like real life wrestlung eveyone should read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Good, Solid Read: A Reminder & a Warning

    Martino gets to the heart of what it means to be a true competitor in high school wrestling, all the while keeping the story grounded in how some teen-agers' lives unfold: the complications, the unrest, the pressures, the anxieties, the risks, the health issues, and whatever relationships which can often tie up a wrestler worse than any opponent on the mat.

    The structure keeps the story moving forward incredibly well, breezing through weeks at a time, but plotting the development of his two main protagonists confidently: disparate backgrounds and different reasons for coming into wrestling, but drawing a recognisable parallel between how teen-agers experience an isolation or detachment from their parents during this natural and turbulent rite of passage. This last might help young readers see that they are not alone in their experiences, and may open paths for communication; at the same time reminding parents of what they went through as teen-agers.

    This is a fairly simple story, but I give it extra points for the inner-dialogue peppered throughout its pages, lending the novel its verisimilitude. Also, some of the unexplained wrestling terms may confuse some readers, but not wrestlers.

    That said, some minor editing wouldn't have gone amiss. Character archetypes (e.g., both sets of parents) may mirror their counterparts but feel rather under-written. Still, this is a novel about two boys, and how they're viewing their respective worlds, so this two-dimensionality fits that profile.

    Now, I liked the ending, it fits the novel in the sense that it is about the journeys these two lads take to get to the States - but it did remind me of another wrestling-novel, Vision Quest by Terry Davis.

    Then again, that's not a bad thing either.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    New Jersey state champ........who will it be?

    Wrestling, have you heard of it? Ivan and Bobby have two different lifestyles. Ivan has a dad that does not push him. Bobby, on the other hand, comes from a wealthy family that cares about everything he does. The two boys have never met yet and will only meet for six minutes if they both make it to state title. Everybody knows that in wrestling only one can walk off the mat with the state title. To make it to state the boys have to put in long, grueling hours of hard work at practice. The hardest thing every wrestler will say is that the cutting the weight is the hardest. You will see that it is the hardest and that the boys will starve for long periods of time. From the pain and grueling hours of hard work, who will walk off the wrestling mat with the state championship in their hands? Read on to find out. I loved this book because it explained what we wrestlers go through to do the sport that we love. I thought it was confusing at first because I did not realize that the book was talking out two separate boys. So when they switched stories, it got confusing. But once I figured that out, it was easy to follow along with. I can relate to this book because I am a wrestler myself. I know that it is hard to make weight so you can be in the weight class that you want to be in for the season. If you are still debating on this book take these thoughts into consideration. You will like this book if you like wrestling or most sports or if you enjoy action books. Remember to choose what you want to read and have fun with it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2005

    A book for all teen wrestlers

    My 15 year old wrestler read this book and thought is was great. He is looking for a sequel - it is not often he is looking forward to reading. Thank you for your contribution to literacy and helping students understand different cultures and values.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2005

    Hello, I Am The Author Of 'Pinned'...

    I wrote this novel with two primary objectives in mind: To offer wrestlers (current and former) and sports fans something fresh and interesting to read, and to put the sport of amateur wrestling in a positive light. I believe I have done both. I hope you enjoy 'Pinned.' Thanks, Alfred C. Martino

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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