Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (a Scholastic imprint)
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 240
Source of Book: ARC from publisher at NCTE
Just in time for the Olympics: A gymnastics novel to flip for!I really enjoyed Donna Freitas' first book, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD, and I expected a similar style of a fun, contemporary, romantic book with a teen girl coming into her own and finding her own strength in becoming confident in herself. GOLD MEDAL SUMMER met that expectation in a great middle grades story that is very timely with the summer Olympics coming up this summer. This book was a quick read because it is definitely written on a level for 5th-8th grades, but it touches on a lot of themes throughout. It's a sports story, but it's also a story about family and friendships and young romance.
Joey Jordan loves gymnastics: the thrill of performing a backflip on the beam, the cheers of the audience when she sticks a landing. But even with all her talent and style, she's never quite made it to that gold medal stand.
Now big changes shake up Joey's life in and out of the gym. Joey wants to break out some daring new beam and floor routines--but she'll have to defy her strict coach to do it. Her best friend, Alex, is thinking about quitting gymnastics for good. And an old friend named Tanner just moved back to town, and he's suddenly gotten very, very cute. Can Joey handle all the challenges coming her way, and make her gold medal summer happen at last?
Drawing on her real-life experience as a competitive gymnast, acclaimed novelist Donna Freitas delivers both a terrific gymnastics story and a classic novel about stretching some limits, bending the rules, and finding your balance.
I really enjoyed the realism of the whole story. There was no unnecessary drama, it all just felt true to what these young girls would have been going through. There's also a great guy character as the romantic interest who is just a sweetheart. The insiders view of competitive gymnastics was intriguing, and made all the more interesting by knowing that the author was a competitive gymnast herself when she was younger. I completely bought into the family dynamics in this story as well. Joey is struggling with her relationships with her older sister and both of her parents, but she is able to come to terms and deal with them in a mature way.
When I met the author at NCTE, she said that she wrote the book she would have wanted to read when she was 12. I can see how that's true and think many other girls will feel the same way. Overall this was an enjoyable book that I will definitely be handing off to my students in the fall. I imagine the girls will be reading and passing this one on to each other.