Published by Viking Books For Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Genres: young adult, sports, contemporary
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Five gymnasts. One goal.
Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.
Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life…and a secret that could ruin everything.
Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.
Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.
Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?
By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.
Gosh, this was such a great book! Most sports books don’t work for me because they don’t seem very well researched, but this one COMPLETELY was. Warning: if teenage girl angst, drama, and animosity is not your thing, you will not like this. There is quite a bit of girl-on-girl hate, but this is a competition, and I feel it’s realistic in this case.
There is great diversity here as well, and the book touches a lot on issues teen girls face, and not just gymnast girls. I really really liked the characters and the themes of the novel. An eating disorder was touched upon, and it played out in a respectful and realistic way. Overbearing parents and bullying are two other topics that were woven into the plot in a really great way. There are three POC characters–two black and one Asian, and one gay character.
It wasn’t a perfect book for me, because the ending wasn’t as emotional as I thought it was going to be, and I really wanted one thing to happen that didn’t. View Spoiler » I wanted Grace to finally stand up to her father and that didn’t happen. Obviously I wanted Camille and Leigh to get together, but that would have been too easy, maybe. Camille isn’t gay. « Hide Spoiler Yay for realistic endings though. That’s the second book I’ve read that didn’t wrap everything up with a neat bow, and though this one didn’t work for me as well, I still really liked it.
Oh, and finally, 5 POVs in this book from five different gymnasts. I think they are handled really well and each girl is distinct from the others and they all have their stories to tell, but if multiple POVs are a thing you don’t like, keep that in mind.
The book takes place during the women’s artistic gymnastics Olympic trials, and the girls characters and pasts are woven together as they compete for spots on the team. It was also a bit of a social commentary on the sport and selection process. And I must say that I agree. I don’t understand how ONE woman is responsible for putting the team together. Seems very biased and unfair. It should at least be a committee because what if she doesn’t like you? It is my understanding that she makes the decisions and the committee has to approve them, but they basically listen to her and let her do what she wants. But see, I don’t really like Marta Karolyi. Never have, and I know the Katja character in the book is supposed to be Marta. I legit hope that Marta is nothing like Katja, because if she is…
This is a very timely book since the Olympics are in August, and the gymnastic Olympic trials are coming up at the beginning of July, and it’s made me very excited to watch these girls compete and go for the gold.