Although I read a lot of high school/middle grade novels, it feels like quite a while since I have reviewed a realistic fiction book for the upper elementary crowd.
Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas was published this summer- a perfect reading selection for the gymnasts I know as the Olympics approached.
Joey Jordan's dream is to win a gold medal and be a champion gymnast. Her older sister Julia has made this feat look easy, but Joey knows how difficult it is as she battles her own doubts and spends hour after hour training. A bright spot in her training is the friendships she forms with other gymnasts, although Joey must also deal with a few rivals who work at psyching her out.
When Joey reconnects with Tanner, who has just returned to town, she begins to realize there might be a world outside of the gym. And, when one of her coaches offers her an opportunity to develop a floor routine that is catered to her skills and talents, Joey can't refuse, despite the fact that she will be facing the wrath of her very demanding head coach.
This reminded me a bit of Kate Messner's Sugar and Ice which focused on the sport of figure skating and had a bit of a mean girl/bullying theme as well. I loved Gold Medal Summer, and think that many girls can relate to Joey's predicament. Donna Freitas' latest novel is a gold medal read.