As I write this, five teenage American girls just spun, leapt, flipped, backflipped, somersaulted, cartwheeled, rounded off, back layovered, front walkovered, kipped, pirouetted, cried, hugged, and stuck the landings on their way to a gold medal. It was extremely awesome. And I felt like I knew a little bit more about what they were going through on the inside, thanks to this book:
Gold Medal Summer is the story of Joey Jordan, a fourteen-year-old gymnast who's struggling to focus in the midst of a welter of distractions: a coach who doesn't appreciate her style; a best friend who's thinking of quitting; a cute new boy who's just moved to town; an older sister who's a past National Champion (comparisons much?); and parents who aren't exactly Aly Raisman's. But even with all of this, Joey loves her sport and works hard at getting better at it, as she dreams of having her gold medal summer.
Donna competed in gymnastics herself until she was fifteen, and thus it's filled with true-life descriptions of what it's like to do a kip on the bar or tumble through a floor routine in a minute flat. It's also got a wonderful emotional heart about learning to stand up for yourself, even when it's scary, and believing you can accomplish what you want to do. It is exactly the book I would have wanted to read when I was ten years old and daydreaming about gymnastics -- all about friends, doing flips on the beach, and waving from that podium at the end of the day: so spirited and fun and sweet, it can't help but leave a smile on your face. If you have the chance to pick it up this Olympics, I hope you enjoy it!
- Rebecca Stead said of it, "This book is like a perfect cartwheel--immensely fun and satisfying."
- And (fellow former gymnast) Linda Sue Park said, "I loved the gymnastics in Gold Medal Summer, but I was even more impressed with the relationships."
- Donna blogged about the book and the Olympics for the Scholastic blog and did a great Q&A with NYMetroParents.
- And it was seen on the Today Show last week!
- You can hear a sample of the audiobook here.