My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Sports, High School, Gymnastics, Romance, Friendship, Contemporary
From gold medalist and reality TV star Shawn Johnson comes a debut YA novel inspired by her own experiences as an elite teenage gymnast—just in time for the Summer 2016 Olympic games.
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.
Inspired by her own experiences as a fifteen-year-old Olympic gymnast, gold medalist Shawn Johnson writes a delightfully entertaining novel about chasing big dreams and falling in love, all while trying to keep it real.
I was never a sportive kind of girl. I mean, I tried to be: I joined the basketball team when I was in fourth grade, let myself explore the joys of swimming in secondary two, tried to pom-pom a little and dance my ass off a few years later. Needless to say, I quit all of these promising looking sports.
The only one—only one—I never wanted to quit (but had to, when I got too old for it) was gymnastics. Hey, I was no pro, but I loved it. I loved the gracefulness of the movements and being so ‘in touch’ with my own body. For those aforementioned reasons, The Flip Side completely appealed to me. I vicariously lived my fantasy of being a gymnastic champion through Charlie.
Or shall I say Charlotte? You see, this girl right here lives a double life. She is a master of gymnastics, in her way to the Olympics, if she makes the team. Oh, Charlie won’t have it any other way. She keeps her identity—her passion—hidden from her schoolmates, because she doesn’t want anyone to solely think of her as a champion. She gets enough attention as there is, no need to extend that popularity to her school.
Shawn Johnson, former gymnast, wrote a pleasant story about a girl doing everything in her means to reach her goals. I liked Charlie even before she proved to me her dedication to gymnastics; she radiates maturity, determination and goodwill. Only good vibes are wafting in the air when she is around. It was extremely easy to connect with her and become her personal cheerleader.
Now the story isn’t complex, fascinatingly crafted or illuminating in any way, but this is a book every fan of gymnastics should read. It’s fast-paced, engrossing and the dynamics between characters are wonderfully vivid. If you’ve ever read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, you know exactly what I mean. It just reads so well. I didn’t want to put it down before knowing if yes or no she has made the Olympic team. At one point, I started biting my nails.
I wasn’t convinced by the romance, but I understand why the author wanted to include some nonetheless: there’s prom coming up and the girls are excited! Charlie’s best friend, Zoe, keeps pushing her towards boys… and she does end up tumbling in the arms of one—Bobby. He’s in the wrestling team. What a coincidence. Two athletes. He’s a good guy, so I didn’t mind his presence in the story, but don’t mistake this novel brimming with significant messages to young readers to follow their dreams for a love story.
I want more books like this one. I want to feel like a gymnast some more.