Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
*Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Gymnastics is one of my favorite events in the Olympics aside from track and field. I liked Shawn Johnson's performance in 2008 and found her to be quite amazing, so when I learned she was releasing a YA novel that would incorporate her experience as an elite gymnast I knew I had to read it.
The Flip Side was a good debut. The story surrounded all things gymnastics, as expected. Charlie's character not only depicted what it was like to have gymnastics as the center of her life, but we also got a sense of how hard it is to be an athlete, how much work and dedication you have to give, and how it impacts your family. Charlie was one of the best in her sport, but with all the training and living and breathing gymnastics, she reached a point where she wanted one some speck of normalcy. Hence, why she convinced her parents to let her attend public school. But being an elite gymnast and an Olympic hopeful brings the kind of spotlight that not a lot of people want, and Charlie wanted to avoid that by keeping the athletic side of her a secret.
I totally understand why she would separate the two worlds. I mean, people can be fake and you never know who to trust or who wants to be seen with you in order to gain popularity. That was a justifiable reason to keep it all a secret, but I just didn't get why Charlie couldn't tell Zoe, her supposedly best friend. She lied to Zoe over and over and never even invited the girl to her house. It baffled me throughout the entire story because clearly Zoe was someone Charlie could trust, yet she kept an important part of her life from her friend. That was sad to me, and nothing Charlie said made it acceptable. Zoe was a great friend, and she didn't deserve being lied to. The same for Bobby.
Bobby was also a star athlete and the one person that could relate with Charlie the most. She could have told him everything and he'd understand, because he knew what it was like to have so much pressure and want more than anything to reach your goals. But she kept gymnastics from him as well. It just didn't make any sense to me why she carried on lying to him and Zoe. No sense at all. I mean you just knew things were bound to explode and people would be hurt.
Another thing I had an issue with was the descriptions about different moves while Charlie, Gwen or other gymnasts were practicing. Again, I love to watch gymnastics, but reading every detail about each technique and such isn't as entertaining. I couldn't visualize the scenes; it's better and more fun to watch.
Overall, a nice story with a few bits of drama and a young girl trying to balance her life. Fans of gymnastics and Shawn Johnson altogether will appreciate this release, and I hope she does write more books.