Monday, August 27, 2012

Go-for-Gold Gymnasts: Unexpected Twist by Dominique Moceanu and Alicia Thompson

Christina Flores is going to be an Olympic gymnastics champion someday. That's her goal and that's her mom's goal; every day each work toward it in their own ways. Christina practices her routines while her Mom watches them and points out areas that Christina should work on. There's a big competition coming up, and it could be one to put Christina and the other Texas Twisters on the radar for the next Olympic Team. Christina starts working extra hard...and ignores the pain that she feels in her foot. At this crucial point in her career, is her body going to let her down? And is she going to let down her mother?

I was anticipating the 'Do I want to stay in gymnastics?' plot in Jessie's book, but it also gets visited from a slightly different angle in Unexpected Twist. Since the first book in the series, Christina's been shown to be a little tightly wound - focused on gymnastics but almost to the exclusion of everything else. She, like Noelle, feels the pressure of a family who has committed themselves to her gymnastics, although where for Noelle's family it's more the sacrifice of money, for Christina's mom it's the sacrifice of a life outside of her daughter.  Even through to the book's resolution I was never quite sure why her mom has built her life this way: is she living through her daughter? Did she have a lack of support growing up? Is she doing it to fill in all the lonely space in her life due to her absent husband? But I guess it's not really a book about Christina's mom - it's a book about Christina and what happens to her when she starts to question how clear her vision of being an Olympic champion is. The book explores the area between how one person sees something and how different it is from how someone else sees the same thing; Christina and her mom have a big fight on Christmas because her mom thinks she's ungrateful while Christina just wants to show her frustration. She learns about controlling the things that are within her control and dealing with the things she can't. Christina hasn't always been sympathetic when seen through the eyes of the other gymnasts, so this glimpse into her life really rounds out the series. This is the fourth of four scheduled books, but there are some story strands started her that could easily carry the series through more books in the future.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Go for the Gold by Elizabeth Levy
Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu
The Go-for-Gold Gymnasts: Winning Team by Dominique Moceanu and Alicia Thompson
The Go-for-Gold Gymnasts:Balancing Act by Dominique Moceanu and Alicia Thompson
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 

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