Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics. A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world. The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive. With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world. Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?
Despite my rocky relationship with sports, I’ve wanted to give this book a try pretty much since just after it was announced. Gymnastics has always fascinated me. The way those people flip and throw themselves through the air? Incredible. Plus, the thrill of the Olympics and gymnastics, all packed into a YA book. I knew this book would deal with hard subjects, such as sexual abuse, but I felt like I could handle it. My friend even read and absolutely loved it and that just gave me all the more incentive to give it a try. Trigger warnings: sexual abuse (all off page), grooming
WOW THIS BOOK WAS INCREDIBLE. Sports books usually make me a little uneasy, only because of my bad experiences, but I flew through this book. It felt like a fast, fun read, but it also goes beyond and so much deeper than that. It’s absolutely everything you would expect of a YA novel about Olympic Gymnastics.
This book does deal with sexual abuse, grooming, and all around terrible people who shouldn’t have been coaches. It was painful to read at times; I hated seeing the girls’ hurting and upset. At the same time, there were also moments of hope and determination. There were people who were jerks; people who just really sucked. But, what stuck out the most to me was the people who supported the victims, the people who believed them, and the people more than willing to speak out. That is what is highlighted in this book. There’s an instance in this book where the abuser makes a statement and we’re told that it’s nasty. Though, it’s never shown on page. When the abusers are accused, they leave. They’re mentioned, but they don’t get any more physical page time. This book focuses on the girls’ feelings and what they want to do. The focus is on their journey.
It feels weird to talk about something else after talking about that, but there is more I want to mention! I love love loved the entire gymnastics team. I love how they came together and solidified as something more than teammates. I loved Audrey; she was such a fantastic main character. She’s determined and terrified and ready to fight for her medals all at the same time. I also loved Emma and Dani and Chelsea and their own journeys to the Olympics.
While I don’t know much about gymnastics, other than the snippets I’ve seen here and there, I found that part of the book incredibly fascinating. I might not have completely got all the technical terms, but I was able to get a decent enough picture of what was happening. Plus, I knew that everything being described was some freaking amazing gymnastics and that was enough for me to be thoroughly impressed with everybody’s skills haha.
I also really loved everybody’s Olympic journey. All the characters journey’s look different and none of them really go the way they thought they were going to. But that’s alright. Because they adjust and they continue to do what they love and they continue to prove themselves. They love what they’re doing and it shows. The Olympics did not go down how I thought they were going to for each character, but I thought it what did happen was brilliant.
The romance also wasn’t what I expected! But, it was so adorable and so sweet. There’s CONSENT and just a high level of all around cuteness.
After reading this book, I want more YA sports books. It was that good. There’s Olympics and gymnastics and determination and teammates and friendships and incredible showings of support. It’s just such a great book.