From Goodreads: Although Tyler Moore was plagued by cystic fibrosis since early childhood, he refused to allow the progressive illness to disrupt his ambition of excelling at sports. Ater’s Tyler’s Mountain Magic is the story of how Tyler took his little junior high school and the town of Harpers Ferry on the most magical sports ride in West Virginia history.
Ater describes Tyler’s unwillingness to quit at anything. As a youngster, he had wrestled in the county youth league for two years and never won a match. But in the seventh grade, he won his last match of the season to help defeat the county’s other junior high school for the first time in 25 years, finally ending the “curse” of John Brown. The following year Tyler became the glue that held the team together when a season-ending cheating scandal rocked the entire county and divided the people.
By the time he was a ninth grader, Tyler had an impossible dream: he and his friends on Blue Ridge Mountain were going to become the only team in West Virginia public school history to win 40 games or matches in a single season, in any sport. Ater chronicles the 3,000-mile journey around the state as the boys work to accomplish something that people said could never be done. Readers experience the drama and sacrifice that Tyler and his teammates make as the cheating scandal from the previous year is rekindled and their coaches talk of resigning over the county’s lack of ethical standards in sports.
“Even though 10 or 15 years ago many children with cystic fibrosis did not live into adulthood, Tyler was not afraid of dying,” Ater says. “He wanted his life to stand for something while he still had time.”
Today, at the entrance to Harpers Ferry, there is no sign honoring John Brown or his infamous raid that ignited the Civil War, but there is a sign honoring a teenage boy who brought an impossible dream to his small town.
Truth be told, I was a little wary of reading this novel when I was first approached by the publisher, as I’m not interested in wrestling in the least. I’ve never been to a wrestling match, and I honestly didn’t know the first thing about it, aside from the fact that a few of my students are on the wrestling team at my school. But the idea of Tyler Moore beating the odds and refusing to sit on the sidelines due to cystic fibrosis was intriguing, and I decided to read this novel, and I’m very glad I did.
Now, I’m still not all that interested in wrestling, and I found parts of this novel to be really boring, but I highly enjoyed getting to know Tyler and his teammates as they attempted the impossible, stood up for what was right, and were all around inspiring people. For some reason, I was under the impression that this novel was non-fiction, but as I looked at the afterword, I was surprised to find it is actually fiction based on a true story. I had to do a little more digging to find out more, but as far as I can tell, Ater, who actually represents the coach within the novel, changed some names, places, situations when penning this novel, for legal reasons, but the overall premise of the story is true; hence, fiction based on truth.
Overall, I found this novel to be a very powerful read. And, even though I couldn’t connect with the wrestling aspect of the novel, I was able to connect with the characters, especially Tyler, who is forever endeared to my heart. Though some things have been changed in the book, he was a real person with cystic fibrosis, and I’d really like to know more about him. Ater did a great job piquing my interest and I’m glad I picked up this book. I highly recommend this novel to any MG and YA males out there, but I think that most will really enjoy this book and connect with it, whether or not they’re into wrestling. Four stars.
Blue Ridge Mountain Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read a copy of this novel, via Netgalley.