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Friday, June 24, 2016

Going for Gold (The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson)


The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson

Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC // 320 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars

I'm not claiming to be a huge Shawn Johnson fan, but I distinctly remember being in high school and cheering for her when she competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Of course, it was from my living room couch. And it was my dad who was mainly watching ... but my eyeballs *did* see her flipping and twisting on my television screen. This only explains why I chose to read The Flip Side, and in no way influences what I think of the content.

"Charlie Ryland has a secret. She may seem like your average high school sophomore — but she's just really good at pretending. Because outside of school Charlie spends all her waking hours training to become one of the best gymnasts in the world. And it’s not easy flying under the radar when you're aiming for Olympic gold ... especially when an irresistible guy comes along and threatens to throw your whole world off balance."

Right from the start, I noticed that the style of writing and form of storytelling caters to a young audience. This was solidified when the word "bae" was used in dialogue. That's the thing kids use nowadays, right?! Not gonna lie, I was baffled when I read it. I still have no words. As simple as The Flip Side was, it *did* explore a great theme: FRIENDSHIP.

Although Charlie and Gwen are training/competing against each other, they are also real friends. There are many ways that backstabbing and catty behavior could've been written into their situation, but it was nice to see that they genuinely encouraged and pushed each other to be better. Side note: The Flip Side reminded me a little of the Disney movie Ice Princess, which I just Googled and found out that MEG CABOT (the author of The Princess Diaries series) wrote the screenplay for?! Thankfully, Gwen's mom does not go out of her way to sabotage Charlie's career ... but I digress.

As much as I loved Gwen and her willingness to take risks for Charlie, I thought she (and the other characters) were TOO PERFECT and one dimensional. We don't know much about Gwen, just that she's dedicated to performing her best, and I would have loved for her character to be developed in some way. We also hardly get to know the guy that just shows up in Charlie's life — why did he like her so much, and vice versa? The lack of backstory for this guy emphasizes the want for this book to be about Charlie experiencing love ... and that was my main disappointment.

For a book centered around a gymnast, I was hoping there'd be more about the actual sport. I feel like it was more about a teenage girl wanting to experience the normal high school events, like prom, and less about an inside look at how a gymnast balances her dream and high school. But it's partly my fault — even the description hints at a budding romance.

The relationship between Charlie + guy didn't work for me, but I appreciate seeing the ways her family is impacted because of the choices Charlie makes. Her parents and brother sacrifice many things for her, privacy and comfort being two. I'm glad that part of being a gymnast was shared.

The Flip Side is ...
  • "basic" (read: opposite of unique) ... can you tell I'm trying to be hip like the kids?)
  • slightly entertaining but lacking in conflict. I wanted more drama!
  • probably written for youths in middle school/entering high school.
  • a quick read. If I didn't have priorities, I would've easily finished in one sitting.
  • not too much about gymnastics and mostly about ... meeting a cute boy in high school?
I love a cute book that ties in sports — what is something you'd recommend? (Mine would be First & Then by Emma Mills!) Have you ever picked up a book because of the "celebrity" author?

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