Dominican-American Esperanza Flores is not a typical world-class U.S. figure skater, but she’s going to provide Olympics-eager girls the perfect opportunity to channel their ambitions.
After unexpectedly winning a silver medal at Nationals, Espi is selected for the Olympic team, along with spiteful Stacie and Meredith, Stacie’s reluctant sidekick and sometime victim. Espi encounters handsome (but conniving) male champion Hunter, who tries to begin a relationship with her, a tempting opportunity even though hockey phenom Danny presents as a better choice. Although Espi’s route to top-level skating seems improbable—self-taught until she was 10, then coached gratis by champion Lucy Chen at her private rink—other parts of her ice odyssey, including her quest to land a quad, pack in enough realistic detail to satisfy dedicated skating aficionados. Drama among skaters continues to increase, creating ample tension both on and off the ice after they arrive at the games. Unfortunately, Freitas lets the relationships edge out the skating, and Espi’s critical final appearance on the ice gets short shrift. In the face of multiple challenges, Espi remains sensibly and believably grounded, although many other skaters are portrayed far less kindly.
An admirable heroine navigates a difficult path to fame and fortune in a tale that will appeal to those looking for a lavish serving of romance along with an interesting backstage glimpse of the international skating world. (Fiction. 10-14)