Happy Monday, guys!
Today, we're reviewing Tumbling, the latest from blog favorite Caela Carter. She brings us into the elite world of women's gymnastics, and shares the stories of five young women who are all competing to be on the Olympic team.
I LOVED this book, and think it's a fantastic way to kick-off the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Published June 7th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Format read: ARC via publisher
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.
Wilhemina 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.
So it's probably unsurprising that I was super stoked to read Tumbling by Caela Carter. She introduces us to five young woman who are competing for spots on the Olympic team, and each begin the trials with their own backstories, struggles, fears and hopes.
As the trials continue, Carter deftly interchanges between the five girls, showing how each of them have gotten to this point in their career, and how they tie into the greater world of competitive gymnastics. The cast of characters is diverse, and Carter does a nice job showing their individual struggle and motivations, including familial problems, pressure from boyfriends, and even some nice nods to the challenges of being a minority in a sport dominated by Caucasian women.
Though each of the girls share compelling and occasionally tragic stories, Willhemina's is especially compelling. She's at the trials to prove that there is merit to good sportsmanship and living a life where your body isn't completely given over to the sport - in stark contrast to teammate Grace - and readers can't help but cheer for the strength and honesty of her conviction.
While the overall trials play out with high drama and unpredictable fashion as most would come to expect from elite sports, the end result - as painful as it is for some - is still oddly satisfying.
Between Carter's emphasis on the benefits of being a good sportsman and a good friend even in cut throat athletics, and the glitz of the Olympics, this is a tale that YA readers will not want to miss.
Grace, Leigh, Camille, Willhemina and Monica shows readers what it takes to work hard for a seemingly impossible goal, but also what it means to play fair and by the rules. Carter smartly reinforces the idea of good sportsmanship against all odds throughout the book, and the end result is a story worthy for any reader as we go into the Olympics.
Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author:
Caela Carter is an author of books about teens and children. She grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Caela teaches at-risk kids and teens in alternative education programs. She has an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School in New York. Her previous books include Me, Him, Them, and It and My Best Friend, Maybe for teenagers, and My Life with the Liars for middle-grade readers. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and her puppy.