Jerry Spinelli possesses the unique talent of rendering a novel that not only compels with its thematic depth, but also remains a clever, gripping story that readers love. Wringer is no exception, dealing with the tribulations of growing up and the courage it takes to turn away from peer pressure. Palmer is apprehensive about his upcoming tenth birthday, which marks a childhood milestone in his hometown, as it is the year boys become ‘wringers’. The annual August Family Fest is marked by its infamous Pigeon Day, a day in which townsfolk shoot pigeons not only for sport, but for the cash flow a fertilizer factory provides for each dead pigeon - $5 apiece to the upkeep of the town’s park. If a pigeon falls to the ground wounded, but not dead, the task of a ‘wringer’ is to complete the pigeon kill by wringing the animal’s neck. Palmer is appalled by this cruel act, but knowing the importance of this particular rite of passage, the young boy is unsure of how he can avoid becoming a wringer himself. Matters worsen when the boy discovers a pigeon perched on his window, and ends up befriending the tiny bird, naming him Nipper. Palmer’s growing love for his pigeon exacerbates his trepidation over becoming a wringer, leaving him to wonder – how can he protect Nipper? A compelling tale, Spinelli’s novel is a marvel, deftly dealing with the nuances of peer pressure, self-identity, and making the right decisions. A fantastic read for students ages 13 and up.