Twelve girls. Two days. Only five winners.
Every four years, a dozen of the United States’ best female gymnasts head to the USA Gymnastics Women’s Olympic Trials to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. The novel’s cast of hopefuls is made up of mostly white girls, with a couple of black girls, a Latina, and one girl who is half-Chinese. There’s a closeted lesbian, and another is Jewish. There are mean girls and meek girls; backstabbers and best friends; veterans and “brand-new baby seniors.” Some are event specialists, while others are all-arounders. The third-person narration alternates through the perspectives of five of the twelve girls, moving from girl to girl and back in labeled subsections within each chapter. Readers may have difficulty keeping characters straight; luckily there’s a trials roster to keep things relatively clear. A glossary of terms is included for the uninitiated, but those heavily involved in the sport will truly understand and appreciate the nuances of scorekeeping, the politics of team assemblage, and the friends-rivals dynamics that keep life cartwheeling along behind the scenes.
Faulty butt glue, waxing “down there,” and dealing with a tyrannical team coordinator won’t stop these girls from going for the gold. (Fiction. 12-15)