Since January I've read 3 gymnast memoirs and I loved them all in
different ways. I've been wanting to review them so here goes! I'm going
in the order in which I read them.
1. Grace, Gold and Glory (my leap of faith) by Gabrielle Douglas
If I'm being honest, this is probably the book I enjoyed the least. I
love Gabby and I love her faith and her focus but I wish the book would
have been more about her time leading up to the Olympics and her
personal thoughts and less about her childhood. Now, I totally get that
she would want to include her whole life into her book and not just he
past few years but I think I would have liked it more had she went more
in depth about her Olympic journey. I loved reading about her
relationship with her host family and her troubles with being away from
home. The inside cover of the book folds out into a neat poster and
there are color pictures in the middle of the text.
2. Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson
I really loved this book! I think it had a great balance of life in the
gym and outside. I didn't know that Shawn was a woman of faith until
reading this and that really made me smile. This book takes you from her
childhood to her present and you get to follow her through switching
gyms to the Olympics and to Hollywood. Her Olympic experience was really
well chronicled, she definitely wrote about it the best. I really was
able to picture her there and understand her thoughts and feelings. I
thought that the portion after the Olympics would be dull but it
actually wasn't, even though she struggled to find her place outside the
gym at first, she ends up feeling "balanced" once again. This book also
includes pictures, which I love!
3. Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu
This book was different from the other two in that it was much more raw
and Dominique's life had a lot more turmoil. This was an awesome read. I
was given a look into her family history and taken all the way to her
life now as a wife and mother. It was so enchanting to read about
Dominique's life as a tiny 14 year old in the Olympics and yet to know
that her life behind closed doors was much less glamorous. I really
enjoyed the honesty in this book, I had no idea how political the sport
of gymnastics was and how this became clear to Dominique when she was
trying to make her comeback. Even with all the drama, there is still
plenty of gymnastics in here. The Olympic portions were vivid and I
liked reading about her relationships with the other girls. And, the
book had pictures in it too!
4. Letters to a Young Gymnast by Nadia Comaneci
I have to be really honest, I didn't love this book. I'm not even sure if I liked it. The first half was hard to get though and to be frank, Nadia rubbed me the wrong way. It was as if she had never done anything wrong in her life and she was perfect in every way. Sometimes it even felt as though she was being rude to the reader. There wasn't a whole lot of gymnastics talk in here, there was some of course but a lot of the book was about her life in Romania. The second half or last quarter was much better than the first it was intriguing to read about Nadia's escape from her home country and a more human side of her was exposed as she wrote of her hard transition to America. I liked that we did get some history and background in this book but I had a really hard time warming up to Nada and so the book itself wasn't very enjoyable. There were no pictures!