This is Grace’s gym book review. I personally think Grace secretly hates this blog which would explain some of the books she put in her top 6 but I still let her post anyway:) And once again I must add the Disclaimer in case any of you minions buy one of these books and decide to sue me because it isn’t as good as Grace says it is:) Bye the way isn’t Grace a pretty name. Anyway here is Grace’s book review. Make sure you check out her blog
Ranked and Reviewed Gymnast’s Memoirs.
HI! I’m Grace from G’s Gym Blog and I’m really psyched to write a guest post for GTT. I wish I could have written about drama in past quads or conspiracy theories but I’m still a pretty new gymnastics fan (going on 3 years!) and though I’ve learned a lot from this blog, I’m not an expert yet. I have however, read nearly all of the memoirs by female gymnasts so I thought a review/reccomendation post might be fun, you know if anyone is looking for a good read or to give a loved one the gift of a juicy gymnastics book. Let’s get to it!
From Worst to Best:
6. Letters to a Young Gymnast by Nadia Comaneci
I bought Nadia’s book back when I was just a budding gymnastics fan (not a young gymnast…) and I was excited to read it. Almost immediately, I was off put by her writing style. It’s strange because I’ve very rarely felt personally offended by an author while reading their book but that was exactly how Ms. Comaneci had me feeling. Her tone to the reader was really condescending and very high and mighty like we couldn’t possibly understand her life and appreciate what she’d gone through. She was also very full of herself and even when she wrote about any mistakes she’d made, she didn’t actually say they were mistakes and excused any wrongdoing. Her opinions on the Karolyi’s were mild, she felt that their teaching style was not for everyone but that it was effective. The Olympics were covered alright and I did like how she explained that she went back to living the exact same poverty-stricken life in Romania even after she’d won gold and become a sensation. The second half or last quarter was much better than the first as it was intriguing to read about Nadia’s escape from her home country and a more human side of her was exposed as she wrote of her hard transition to America. One good thing about this book was that it was pretty informative. Many gymnastics elements are explained thoroughly which I appreciated. I’d only recommend this book to die hard Comaneci fans, certainly not young gymnasts.
Entertainment Rating: 2/10
Informational Rating: 8/10
5. Grace, Gold and Glory by Gabby Douglas (NOT PIctured)
I read this book back when I actually liked Gabby so my initial reactions were a bit kinder than my reflections are. Truthfully, this book was pretty dull. A lot of it was spent writing about Gabby’s childhood which I didn’t really care about. She does talk about some bullying at Excalibur, girls telling her she needed a nose job and things like that which seemed sort of thrown in. The best portions were probably about Gabby adjusting to her life in Iowa because it felt pretty authentic. Of course, what I really wanted to hear about (and this goes for all of the books I read) was her relationships with other gymnasts in her quad. She uses phrases like “my friend Jordyn” and “we all got along so well” but there was no real detail or feeling that would suggest the FF were actual best friends. She spent more time going into her relationship with her host family which I now wonder if she has one with them at all. Her Olympic experience wasn’t covered as well as some others. Oh and that leap on the front probably didn’t even get her any credit. Gabby fans would like this book, and maybe elementary aged girls who are into gymnastics, it seemed to be on a lower reading level than some of the others.
Entertainment Rating: 6/10
Informational Rating: 4/10
4. Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu (not pictured)
Regardless of my opinions on Dominique, I do have to say that this was a pretty good read. Unlike the other two above, gymnastics and the Olympics were described in vivid detail that had me feeling like I’d experienced it too. Some of the rough stuff in her life are very well documented (her parental issues, Bela’s erratic behavior and loyalty to her father) but other more intriguing issues were totally glossed over. Her relationship with Brian, a grown married man, whom she travelled to the Cayman Islands with was super strange to me and not well explained. And then there was just a tiny paragraph about her getting into drinking and drug use but it was very brief and clearly she was holding back. It was interesting to read about her attempted comeback and her frustration over her petition being denied because Marta had changed her requirements last minute and representatives who hadn’t even seen her (Kim Z) had voted to against her. The gymnastics chapters are juxtaposed with the more recent events of Dominique meeting and forming a relationship with the sister she never knew she had. Nice and feel good but boring. I’d recommend this book to gymantic/Moceanu fans or those who just want a good juicy drama-filled read.
Entertainment Rating: 8/10
Informative Rating: 7/10
3. Finding Balance by Shawn Johnson
The beginning of this book also had portions on Shawn’s childhood but they didn’t bore me like the others, maybe that’s because I actually like Shawn and found it interesting. Shawn was really likeable in the way she wrote and presented her story. She also did a good job writing about her Olympics. She actually seemed to be friends with Nastia back then (or maybe just thought she was) and she wrote about her crush on a cyclist named Taylor whom he also met in Beijing. Alicia was the one who encouraged her to wear the gold ribbon, who knew? As we know, she was pretty devastated after not winning the AA (I think she really thought it was hers) and then getting silver again in floor finals. Even though I already knew the outcome, I was so happy to read about her prevailing on the beam. The last quarter or so of the book was spent on Shawn’s life after the Olympics, her time on DWTS (where she had a really scary stalker) and her training for a comeback. It was written before her retirement so it didn’t cover any of that. I’d recommend this book for any gymnastics fan or even just the average girl who wants to read a story about determination and faith.
Entertainment Rating: 9/10
Informational Rating: 7/10
2. It’s Not About Perfect by Shannon Miller
I love Shannon Miller so I was psyched when her book finally came out and I wasn’t disappointed. This book was totally Shannon. Perky writing style, positive outlook and sometimes blind naivety. It was also very informative about the daily life of a gymnast, sometimes a little too mundane and maybe too detailed about training but I appreciated her really trying to explain what it took for her to become successful. Her descriptions of Steve were great and there was some good humor thrown in, like the origin of the her famous white scrunchie. Though Shannon’s record speaks for itself, she is anything but full of herself and felt that much of her success was due to her great coaching team and her ability to perform consistently under pressure. She wrote that she has no ill feelings toward Gutsu and was just excited to win the silver in ’92. She seemed to get along well with all her teammates, maybe throwing a little shade at DoMo at one point. My only issue with this book was that her marriage and divorce to Chris were barely mentioned and explained at all. One minute she was married and the next, she was living alone with her two dogs. Only in the very end did she talk about her cancer journey and that was interesting to read as well, I really did come away with a respect and admiration for Shannon and her outlook on life. I recommend this book to gymnasts, gymnastics fans, people affected by cancer or anyone looking to read an inspirational book about finding your path in life.
Entertainment Rating: 9/10
Informational Rating: 10/10
1. Chalked Up by Jennifer Sey
I had no idea who Jennifer was before buying this book online so I didn’t know how I’d end up liking it. I didn’t expect to enjoy her book even more than girls I knew and loved like Shawn and Shannon but I did! I think what really made this book a standout was that Jennifer currently has no ties to USA Gymnastics and so she wasn’t afraid to be completely honest. She writes about feeling that her own coach at Parkettes was most likely a pedophile (John), though he never acted on it. She calls out Don Peters and is still good friends with Doe. Her time being trained by Bill and Donna Strauss sounds terrible and how people still actually send their kids to these people is beyond me because they sound absolutely crazy. Donna berated girls about their weight and insulted them when they did poorly while Bill threw things when he was angry. Sey had to deal with them as well as an eating disorder. Her descriptions of competing as she slowly starved herself were haunting but so well written. Her downfall in the sport and in life were sometimes hard to read but very real. Unlike some of the other books that have also had a ghost writer, Jennifer writes this alone and is clearly talented in her craft. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Entertainment Rating: 10/10
Information Rating: 10/10
Hope you enjoyed Grace’s review. If you want to write a blog let me know oh and I am in the process of writing a blog for Nastia’s engagement with a lot of idea’s I stole from Jas :)