Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.75 / 5 stars)
“The secret to selling is to suspend the disbelief of the audience.”
Ryder Blakemore, A.K.A. Thunderbolt Ryder, is a master and suspending disbelief. Raised in a pro wrestling family, he needs to live up to his father’s name while also defining himself within the sport. But, sometimes being Thunderbolt Ryder takes a tole on the real Ryder, and when he goes back home to help his friend with a divorce, he begins to wonder what else there is beyond the art of the sell.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I wasn’t sure what I would think at first; I’m not one to read a lot of sports fiction, but All A Part of the Chaos is beautifully written examination of self-hatred and growth. One could say that Ryder is so talented at suspending disbelief and selling himself on the stage, that he even has himself fooled. He righteously follows his friends, his loyalty worn on his sleeve, that he ignores their toxic behavior. Some days, he puffs out his chest and pretends like he is always that wrestler in the ring.
But deep down, Ryder is struggling. When he forms a friendship with Amira at the local supermarket, it helps him explore the depths behind some of his emotions. Griggs does a fantastic job letting Ryder’s emotions and revelations come organically, and throughout the narrative the reader can see him growing from an expected, stuck up, somewhat sexist wrestler, to a man with a big heart…who is still a wrestler!
I do wish we could have explored Ryder’s relationship with his father more. Amid all the drama with his friend and with Amira, some of the other relationships that were equally important were sidelined. His father was one of them. Perhaps Griggs will be exploring that in another novel though.
My hesitancy for this book also initially due to the trope of boy-meets-girl…but the girl has a boyfriend. Part of me worried we would be spending the novel watching Ryder try to woo Amira. But to my satisfaction, that wasn’t the case.
This book is not just a sports book; this is a book about friendship and romance. Ryder is an endearing character to read, and I enjoyed getting in his head. I cannot wait to see what Bubba Griggs puts out there next.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What’s it about?
Everyone thinks that Pro Wrestling is fake, but to Ryder Blakemore, being fake gets him paid.
Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Ryder is ecstatic when he gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a shot at the FAW Title. As a wrestler, Ryder lives and dies by the sell, the act of making wrestling look believable to the audience. Armed with his wrestling persona of “Thunderbolt Ryder” and his blue tights, he sets out to cement his legacy as the best wrestler in the world. But not if chaos has anything to say about it. Not the wrestler, but the unexpected and unpredictable changes in life.
With the title match fast approaching, Ryder meets and quickly forms a bond with Amira which causes Ryder to become the man that everyone expects him to be. Because being fake doesn’t get you anywhere with love and Ryder soon finds out that even in wrestling, you can’t sell the way of the heart.