The Summer Olympics kick off with the opening ceremony in Rio tonight. The Olympics are always an exciting event. One my favorite summer Olympic sports to watch is gymnastics. I don’t know a lot about gymnastics, and I don’t follow it very much in non-Olympic years, but I still enjoy it. This year my enjoyment of Olympic gymnastics is able to go beyond a few hours in front of the television and into my reading time. There have been some fun and interesting gymnastic-focused sports novels that have come out this summer. If you like gymnastics (even as sparingly as I do) you’ll have to check these out.
The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson and A. L. Sonnichsen is the fun-filled story of Olympic hopeful gymnast Charlie Ryland, and her alter-ego Charlotte. Charlie wants to make the Olympics, it has been her goal since childhood, and the Olympic trials are only a few weeks away. Charlie also wants to have a normal life, which she lives as Charlotte attending public high school (a rarity for top-level gymnasts). Charlie must work hard every day as a gymnast and to keep her two lives separate, with separate best friends. But
will it all come crashing down when a boy is added to the mix? Shawn Johnson is an Olympic gold medalist adding a sense of authenticity to the story. The Flip Side takes place primarily prior to the Olympic trials focusing on Charlie and her dual-lives.
Tumbling by Caela Carter follows five gymnasts during the two day Olympic trials. Grace, Leigh, Camille, Mina, and Monica all have different backgrounds and motivation, but they are all competing against 11 other girls for one of coveted five spots on the Olympic team. The book is formatted by event rotation with each of the five gymnasts having a section and distinct voice. These girls feel a little more mature than Charlie, making it more suitable for the high school and up crowd. Tumbling feels like an insider’s view to the Olympic trials and the fears that each gymnast faces at competition.
Sports books are typically a male dominated enterprise. They feature men as main characters and are often written with sports-minded males in mind. And that’s great. But this summer there is a bit of a different trend that’s cool, too. Check out one of these great gymnastic novels and enjoy the Olympics!