Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Review: Tumbling

Title: Tumbling
Author: Caela Carter
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Source: Penguin Teen for Review Consideration

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.

My Review

With the Summer Olympics in Rio in just a few days, I needed something to (metaphorically) quench my thirst until the opening ceremony and my favorite sports. More specifically, I needed some more gymnastics in my life and my third re-watch of Make it or Break It needed a friend. Then I remembered that Penguin Teen sent a copy of Tumbling by Caela Carter, and I knew that I had saved it for just the perfect moment in time. 

The future is about to change for the twelve young women competing in the U.S. Olympic Gymnastic Trials. There's only room for five girls on the team, plus the three alternates who most likely won't get a chance to compete in Rome, Italy. Grace has built her life around gymnastics, giving up normal friendships and a normal life so she can be the best. Leigh seems to have it all. She goes to school and competes at an elite level. Camille, or "Comeback Cammie" is back after the last set of trials, but this time, she's not sure she's ready to compete in the summer games. Wilhelmina is back again, after missing the cutoff for the last Olympics by four days and more determined than ever to make the team. Then there's Monica. No one even thinks she has a chance to make the team.

I really enjoyed Tumbling by Caela Carter. The book takes place during the U.S. Olympic Gymnastic Trials, and readers are thrown into one of the most competitive competitions for gymnastics out there. They get a first hand look at the sport and its difficulties, but they also get to see the drama that occurs behind the scenes. I will warn you that there is a lot of drama in this book, and it's all different kinds - friendships, crushes, romances, injuries, ghosts from the past, secrets, health problems - pretty much anything that can distract elite gymnasts is fair game.

Because of the drama in the book, a few of the characters come off as a bit catty and mean, but this is something I expected from a YA book about gymnastics as well. (I mean if you've seen any movie or TV show about gymnastics, you know what I'm saying here.) Honestly, it didn't bother me. It made the characters seem real and really competitive. But they aren't all mean, and the ones who are mean girls aren't like that all the time. There are some sweet moments between the girls, and by the end of the book, I found that I really appreciated each and every character for who they are and who they will become.

The book itself is written in a omniscient third person point of view about five of the girls vying for a spot on the US Olympic Gymnastics Team. While I liked how it was told, I found that I had a hard time relating to the characters because of the plainness of the narration. I also expected to get into the minds of these girls, and the narration lacked that as well. However, Ms. Carter's narration choice did make it seem like I was a front row spectator at the event and for all of the apparatuses.

If you're at all interested in gymnastics or just a fan of Olympic gymnastics, Caela Carter's Tumbling should be a must read on your summer TBR. It's full of action, drama, and heartwarming moments in a world that's just so awe-inspiring. Fans of ABC Family's Make It Or Break It and the film Stick It will really enjoy this action packed book full of twists and turns.

Caela Carter grew up in Basking Ridge, NJ and Baltimore, MD. She's been writing since she learned how to pick up a pen but before the writing thing got serious she spent six years teaching English to middle and high school students in Jacksonville, FL and Chicago, IL. Her debut novel, ME, HIM, THEM AND IT was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury. When she's not writing, Caela is a teacher of some awesome teens in Brooklyn, a Notre Dame football enthusiast, and a happy explorer in New York City.

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