I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb: The only thing seventeen-year-old gymnast Audrey Lee dreams about is swinging her way to Olympic glory. Nothing is going to stop her, not even the agony in her back. Every spasm and ache will be worth it once she had that gold medal around her neck. But none of her training prepares her for her coach being led away in handcuffs, accused by a fellow gymnasts of the unthinkable. No one knows what, or who, to believe and Audrey’s teammates go into meltdown. As the games approach, Audrey has no idea who to trust, let alone what life holds after her final dismount. The only thing that she can do is hope that in the end, belief in herself will be enough for gold.
Title: Break the Fall
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books, part of Hodder and Stoughton
Genre: Fiction, YA, Contemporary
Ever wanted to step into the world of super competitive gymnasts? Follow Audrey and her team on their journey to become gold medallists in the face of one roadblock after another…
I do want to preface this review by noting that this book does contain some (not graphic!) discussion of sexual assault and grooming. We don’t see it happen but it is referenced as something that happened in the not too distant past so if that makes you uncomfortable, you might want to sit this one out.
As someone who has about as much athletic ability and coordination as a big toe, this book fulfilled my every childhood fantasy of wanting to be a gymnast. From my days of watching Stick It, I was obsessed and this story took me right back to that. As the author of this book is also a sports writer you get a really authentic feel for the sport and the atmosphere of the competitions, as well as how hard everyone works to get to that level. I really appreciated the inside knowledge in this case as it helped to make the story more believable and made it easier for you to sink in to. To add to that, while it’s obviously well researched and a lot of gymnastics terminology is used, it’s not confusing and doesn’t feel like reading a foreign language. This is great if, like me, you’re not too up to date on the names for different flips! The underlying plot of the bigwig coach being accused of sexual assault was considered more from the point of view of the gymnasts rather than the perpetrator which I appreciated as it gave more of a voice to the girls than their abuser – something which we don’t always see in real life! Additionally, the ending (no spoilers, don’t worry!) is really satisfying with all of the loose ends being tied up and leaving you with a smile.
I couldn’t write a review of this book without mentioning Leo and how adorable he sounds! In fact, all of the characters, despite not being described in a huge amount of detail, were all interesting and fleshed out. I was rooting for the girls from early on in the story and being able to read along while they compete really held my attention because I so badly wanted them to do well!
As for what I disliked, I have a few nitpicky gripes but nothing huge. At the start of the book we’re told a few times about Audrey’s chronic back pain and how it impacts her performance but we never actually see that be the case. To me (and please remember I’m as far from an athlete as possible) this just felt like a lot of set up to add nothing to the plot. We see Audrey have a few twinges but nothing that would make a difference to her performance – I just felt that she may as well not have had a medical issue in regards to the plot. I do understand that, as someone who doesn’t suffer with chronic pain of any sort, this could be more true to life than making a big deal of it and I’m thinking of it more in terms of plot material than representing people with the same condition in a realistic way. If you suffer from chronic pain, I’d love to know your thoughts on this.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a nice easy read with a lot of heart and a super satisfying ending!
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!
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