Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas

For some reason unknown to me, I'm really slow to finding out about new books by Donna Freitas. Which doesn't make a lot of sense, since I LOVE her books. So when I saw on Cheryl Klein's blog that she had a new book out about gymnastics I ordered it straight away. It's a fun season to read about this kind of thing, and I knew it wouldn't just be a silly book capitalizing on the Olympic season, because it's Donna Freitas! And I was right this is an utterly loveable middle grade book about competitive gymnastics that transcends Olympic season and is jam packed full of reasons to love it.

Joey Jordan is a dedicated gymnast, but she lacks noticeable support from her parents. Since her oldest sister succeeded a great deal at gymnastics before retiring, they aren't interested in watching the heartbreak and pain of another daughter involved in the heavy competition of the sport. Her coach is more interested in cultivating the star power of her best friend than in helping her find her own gifts and skills. And her best friend is seriously contemplating quitting the sport altogether.

When a childhood friend returns all grown up and handsome and an assistant coach offers to help Joey develop new routines that are more suited to her gifts, Joey faces the challenge of growing up and deciding just how dedicated she is to gymnastics.

I loved reading this book this week during the Olympics, because it's always fun to have the internalized world of a fictional protagonist give more emotional weight and meaning to what you see in the world. I felt like I could understand a bit more of what the girls go through in competition. But..I also just loved the book because it has a wonderful emotional center, it's a story about starting to navigate the difficulty of growing up and making choices and telling people how you feel about the way they treat you. One of the endorsements mentions how great the relationships are and for such a slender book they really are...I felt the shifting nature of all of Joey's relationships so well...parents, sister, boy, best friend. And I like that Joey loves gymnastics (sport) and makes a really smart choice for herself even while she faces the pull of a normal life.

It's just good heartwarming fun and it's not about the Olympics so it doesn't have to be read in the next few weeks at all. You can read and enjoy it any time! If you like gymnastics and good middle grade books, I think you'll like this one!

Rating: 4.5/5
Source of Book: Bought it!
Publisher: Arthur A Levine Books (Scholastic)


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