Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sweetheart” as Want to Read:
The Sweetheart
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sweetheart

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  387 ratings  ·  88 reviews
A debut, coming-of-age novel in which 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 is cartoonishly tall and curvaceous, destined to spend the rest of her life waiting tables and living with her widowed father, Franz, in their Philadel
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 20th 2015 by Simon Schuster
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  387 ratings  ·  88 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Sweetheart
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Okay so I only read this book for a challenge here on goodreads, but I found the story really interesting. I mean this is a novel but I had no idea there really were women wrestling back in the 1950's! I still think I'm losing it and that can't be right. lol


Anyway, Leonie Putzkammer is a waitress living with her father. She works at a diner and doesn't see her life changing at all until one day in walks Salvatore Constantini. He is a wrestling promoter and he saw a film on Leonie doing flips an
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to TL by: saw it on goodreads giveaway and bought it on amazon
This one I liked with loving some parts of it.

The sense of scenery/atmosphere and character is done well.. I was caught up in the journey of Gwen as she went from regular girl to star lady wrestler.

The plot moves along at a steady pace, for me it never lagged but there were a few times I wished it was shorter.

We celebrate and cringe along with Gwen/Leonie on her journey. A couple times I wanted to advise her off a path she had chosen but also knowing it was her choices to make.

Nothing is simp
The Millers
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A good novel educates as well as entertains and 'The Sweetheart' certainly does that-and more subtly than the Green Goddess move that Gwen, the books eponymous heroine, inflicts upon her opponent Screaming Mimi in the ring.

Saturated with period detail and a great American sense of place from the steamy, Kudzu infested swamps of Florida, scene of the female wrestlers training camp to the ring sides in some of the USA's great cities- Experience the fever pitched shouts, frenzied betting, razzmatta
Craig Allen
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very excellent 5 star read. Set in the 1950's as a young female attempts to break into the pro wrestling scene, a male dominated world. The writing here was fluid, and held my interest all the way through with a great lead character and a strong supporting cast of folks, too. I don't think you'd need to be a wrestling fan to enjoy this book and Gwen's story, but it would definitely make you more interested in the plot, probably. Two thumbs way up.
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I do not consider myself a physically strong person. I have the upper arm strength of a third grader. Unfortunately, I do not have the body proportions of a third grader. The last time I tried to do a pull-up, it felt like my armpits were being shredded like cheesecloth. So defending myself from a physical attack—let alone initiating one—isn't something I spend much time thinking about. I've already accepted that if the zombie apocalypse happens, the best I can hope for is a swift demise.

Maybe t
Tara Chevrestt
I knew next to nothing about women's wrestling before picking this book up. I had no idea that in the 1950s, women were not even allowed in the ring in some states. We had to fight for the right to fight. Learning that made me appreciate the characters in the book all the more.

And they are characters, with flaws, hopes, and dreams. There's Mimi, Johnny, Lacey, Sam. The women are torn between following their hearts, having marriages and babies and being champions in wrestling. You couldn't do bot
Amanda Mae
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: coming-of-age, sports
Incredibly enjoyable coming-of-age novel about a lady wrestler in the heyday of lady wrestling. I loved every bit about this book - from the modest and shy beginnings of our protagonist, to her desire for something bigger with her life, to her enjoyment of fame, and all the life lessons that came with the journey. The descriptions of the wrestling bouts were fantastic, and very edge-of-your-seat. Even me, the non-athletic type, got swept up in the excitement, and kinda wanted to put on a vintage ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book would probably fall pretty solidly into the category of "beach read"-not lifetime-memorable, not any deep substance to it, but I really enjoyed it! It was a fun novel narrated by and revolving around women. Parts of it were fairly predictable but the ending did a bit of a bait-and-switch that made me very happy. I just had a really good time reading this.
I think any time an author writes a novel in a perspective other than the standard first person singular or third person limited, it’s going to get a lot of attention just for that reason. Though Angelina Mirabella’s debut novel has a lot going for it, what’s going to stand out for its readers right away is its second person narrative. Though, of course, I think the fact that The Sweetheart is also about a professional female wrestler in the 1950s United States is another huge draw, regardless o ...more
Mackie Welch
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a strong 3.5 stars and then I absolutely loved the ending! First, the reason for the lowish rating (at least for me), I found the plot to be a bit slow at times in this one. While there were lots of things happening, it just felt like I was supposed to feel excited, but that the hype just never quite got through to me.

That being said, the writing in this was so fun. I usually don't care for books written in the second person, but in this case it's pretty clear from the beginning th
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Like many other reviewers, I was unfamiliar with the world of women's wrestling when I picked up this book, but the intricate detail of the author's well-researched descriptions had me hooked. I found the pace a bit slow until about the midpoint of the book and, as others have noted, the second-person narration somewhat off-putting--but I also found it intriguing enough to keep reading. Just as the protagonist comes into her own as the Sweetheart, the novel really begins to take shape, and I fou ...more
S.E. Anderson
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The world of women's wrestling int he 1950's like you've never seen it before...
What's unique about this novel is its second person narration; as you read, you are Gwen, you are The Sweetheart, and you are completely tangled into the plot. Gwen is a strong woman - both physically and mentally - and has a lot to accomplish to make her way to the top. You're thrown into the world of wrestling, with the faces and heels, the rivalries and pageantry, the love and the lies.
Such an absolutely fun rea
Trina Knittle
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads win. Will read and review once received.

This was an enjoyable coming of age book. It is about a woman who is a wrestler. I found that to be interesting because in truth I never think of a woman as being a wrestler. I know they can be but it just never pops into my mind. This book has some interesting life lessons throughout the journey o this book. The author did a great job of describing different things throughout this book. A great read.
Desmond Reid
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2018
When Wrestling promoter Salvatore Constantini walked into Leonie diner, her world would turn upside down...for ever.

Her life tending tables and caring for her father changed when she found herself at Joe Pospisil School for Lady Grappling. She would become ‘Gorgeous Gwen Davies’ tag team partner to ‘Screaming Mimi Hollander.

But life as a ‘heel’ leaves her wanting, until she becomes the heroine known as ‘The Sweetheart’. Fans adore her new persona yet Gwen finds this only further complicates the
Montgomery Webster
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: he
Story: 7.5 / 10
Characters: 7.0
Setting: 7.0
Prose: 7.0

Overall, this is quite a good novel, especially for a debut. There are two weaknesses that might put off readers. The book starts with an arbitrary event that triggers a flashback that lasts for the entirety of the novel. Most stories make this same mistake. Humans have been using stories to communicate information since the early days of language. Readers know they are going to be told a story when they pick up a book. These "introductions" ar
BookABooBoo Ludlow
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book, if for no other reason than the great opening line "The turnip and I have a history." The premise -- a memoir style tale told by one of America's more famous female wrestlers of the 1950-1960's -- sparkled with promise. The book, however, was fairly dull. The main problem I had, which prevented me from sinking into the book, was that the narrator, Leonie, did not think, talk or reason like a woman coming of age in the 1950's-1960's. There was a thin varnish of ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-fun
3.5/5 stars. Perhaps you don't know this about me, but when I was little I used to LOVE watching female professional wrestling. In the early-to-mid 80's there was a WWF-style wrestling show with only lady wrestlers. I'm not sure what I liked about it so much, but it was probably mostly related to their outfits. I was also really into She-ra, and the characters on that show definitely dressed in wrestler-like costumes, so that makes sense. Eventually, when I was about 6 or 7, my parents banned me ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this. Literary fiction about professional wrestling? I'm so there for that. I did not, however, like the ending. It's hard because the end did fit with the character and her growth, and, at the very least, she didn't give it all up for a man, but still. I'm upset she gave it up at all and the way it happened felt a little ridiculous.

Also, why oh why did I have to read an entire novel in second person? Kill me. I could've connected with all of the characters more if the story wasn't told
Barbara Terner
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A coming of age novel set in the 1950s using the backdrop of ladies wrestling to tell the story of Leonie Putazkammer, a Philadelphia native. A shy teenager, finding herself caught up in the world of lady wrestling through a chance encounter with a wrestling promoter at a diner she where she worked. Her sheltered existence exploded as she sought to find her own self. She learned about friendship, love and the importance of being true to yourself all while be involved in the crazy world of lady w ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't even know there were female wrestlers in the 50s. Kind of a coming-of-age tale involving wrestling, it was interesting, but kind of dragged sometimes. It is also written in 2nd person and the "you" of the book is the main character herself, so that took me out of the story sometimes, but it makes sense why the author chose to write it that way. Overall a good book with some minor flaws.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book. Frustrated by it's point of view and tense but it became clear later as I read on. Well done. A very odd topic for a book, women's wrestling in the 1950's?
Wanda Krieger
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Thrown off by the use of 2nd person and couldn’t get into it.
I found the second-person narrative off-putting.
Bushra Boblai
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Sweetheart, by Angelina Mirabella, is a historical fiction, set in the 50's. It deals with the women's grappling industry, which was very popular in the day. What you need to understand is that these women were not as free to make their own choices in an industry dominated by men. The main character is an embodiment of that. The author has beautifully explored how frightening freedom and adventure can be, when you've lived all your life in a dreaded monotony. She struggles with fame, expecta ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
If I remember correctly, this was kind of an impulse-hold at my library. By the time it arrived for me and I started it, I'd completely forgotten about it. But that just means that it was a pleasant surprise! It's so unique. The main character is a female professional wrestler in the 1950s. How cool is that? You can also tell that the author really did her homework to present an accurate picture of professional wrestling of the period.

The Sweetheart opens with a prologue that you're going to wan
Cindy Roesel
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I must say I was attracted to the novel, THE SWEETHEART (Simon and Schuster) by Angelina Mirabella when I saw the cover. The folks at Simon and Schuster did a swell job creating a catchy picture that didn’t quite tell you what the book was about, but certainly made you want to pick it up and take a look inside. I know I did. After I read a few pages, I have to say, holy moly, I didn’t see that coming! But I took the bait and I’m glad I did!

17-year old, Leonie Putzkammer is too tall, athletic and
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again because it bears repeating. I love winning Goodreads Giveaways because it lets me read books I generally wouldn’t read if I was picking and choosing.

The Sweetheart is such a book. The only women’s wrestling I’m familiar with came from G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) and we all know how ‘real’ that was. Man, what a great show G.L.O.W. was.

But the book isn’t just about women’s wrestling; it’s about female empowerment, charting your own course in li
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this novel through the Goodreads First Reads program

This is something I likely would not have picked up for myself. Wrestling? Not my bag, at all. However, I was completely and utterly charmed by this novel. I didn't want to put it down, I got completely involved in the characters, and yes, swept up in the drama of the wrestling world.
This is set in the early-mid 50s, at the dawn of women's wrestling. Much of the core bits of wrestling have been there since the beginnin
clarah rae grossman
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've had time to think about this book, and originally I gave it a 5 stars, but I now see this book as 4 stars- 4.5 tops.
Picking up this book, I thought I was going to find an empowering story about being a female but also being tough and a badass wrestler. It was like that, a female being a wrestler- but she questioned her choices a lot. I would say that Gwen Davies is a strong character, she's brilliant but unsure what to do with her life. It feels like whenever she's given an opportunity, she
Molly (Conan the Librarian) Crumbley
Welcome to Philadelphia in 1953. American Bandstand reigns supreme on the airwaves, women are taught to be proper ladies, and teenaged Leonie Putzkammer wants more than the blue collar life that has been set out for her. She’s just too tall, too buxom, too athletic, too unconventional. Her ambitions, along with an impressive backflip soon send our plucky heroine packing her bags and forging a new identity as a lady wrestler.

As Gorgeous Gwen Davies, Leonie is able to find a place where she fits i
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Everybody Rise
  • Tara Road
  • All Adults Here
  • Bittersweet
  • The Abomination (The Carnivia Trilogy, #1)
  • Compromising Positions
  • The Abduction (The Carnivia Trilogy, #2)
  • Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable How I Tried to Help the World's Most Notorious Mayor
  • California
  • The Actress
  • Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper
  • A Beautiful Crime
  • Winter Counts
  • Rodham
  • The Lions of Fifth Avenue
  • All My Puny Sorrows
  • The English Girl (Gabriel Allon, #13)
See similar books…
Angelina is the author of The Sweetheart. She lives in Ithaca, NY with her husband and two daughters.

Articles featuring this book

Step into the ring with this author's debut novel, The Sweetheart, set in the charismatic and colorful world of professional female wrestlers in...
25 likes · 14 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »