Finding Our Balance (2016) (Volume 1) by Lauren Hopkins

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In the heart of reading The Maze Runner series, TWO (yes TWO) gymnastics books came out within a week of each other. For various reasons I wanted to finish reading The Maze Runner before diving deep into the world of gymnastics. With Finding My Shine read and back on my shelf, I quickly turned to Finding Our Balance by Lauren Hopkins. After hearing podcast reviews, seeing tweets about the series and the general reaction to the book I couldn’t wait to get started.

I should preface this by saying there are very few gymnastics books I do not like. With that being said, Finding Our Balance is not just for die hard gymnastics fans. Even the basic gymnastics fan will appreciate the process the gymnasts go through.

Finding Our Balance Synopsis

Finding Our Balance

When 15-year-old newcomer Amalia Blanchard makes a splash with her beam routine in front of the entire U.S. national team, veterans like Ruby Spencer—whose 2012 Olympic dreams were dashed due to an injury just a month before the Games—and Emerson Bedford—a two-time world champion set to run the show in Rio—start to take notice. With preliminary competitions to get through before the team trials, all three have something to prove, as Emerson struggles to maintain her queen bee status, Ruby tries to show everyone she is still a contender, and Amalia hopes she has what it takes to stand out in a talented field. Finding Our Balance follows these extraordinary teenage girls through heartbreak, triumph, and everything in between as their lifetime of training comes down to a single summer that will change their lives forever.

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My Thoughts on Finding Our Balance

What is an Olympic year without a little bit of drama?

Finding Our Balance gives us the drama we need, without interrupting the current USA Gymnastics team. Author Lauren Hopkins mentioned in the book and on various interviews that each of the characters is fictional. While they might have characteristics of current and former gymnasts none of the characters is based off of a specific gymnast. Generally speaking when a book is written about gymnastics it focuses on the drama and not the gymnastics. Lauren pulled together a book that focuses on both the drama and the gymnastics.

Knowing the basics of how the USA Gymnastics selection process works currently, it was very clear that Lauren did her research on the book. As soon as I read about “the farm” in Wisconsin I started laughing as currently the USA team trains at “the ranch” in Texas. The comparables were fun to read but also was incredibly educating for someone who might not know the grueling process these girls go through in order to reach the Olympic Team.

I loved Amalia and Ruby. Their dynamic together was amazing and Ruby’s witty comebacks in just about every situation had me laughing out loud. By the end of the book Emerson was a character I can’t wait to learn more about. Starting out as the enemy, she slowly made her way into the circle with Ruby and Amalia and I can’t wait to see what the trio gets into next.

For the die hard gymnastics fans, there will be references throughout the book that will make you laugh. If you aren’t a die hard fan, well there might be a few little references that catch you off guard. My favorite reference though was related to Oksana Chusovitina.

“Hello? War and Peace.”
“You’ve read War and Peace?”
“Um, do I look like I have time to read a book as long as Oksana Chusovitina’s career?”

Seriously, how many 40 year old women are still working towards a spot on the Olympic team? She deserves the shout out!

I read most of Finding Our Balance in a weekend, so it was an easy read but also an incredibly fun book to read. As a long time gymnastics fan, I’m always looking for a fun new book and this one covered the young adult level but kept a “not so young” adult like me entertained from start to finish.

Read Finding Our Balance

There are two more books that will be released in the series. For now volume 1 is out and ready to be quickly consumed by gymnastics fans around the world.

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Keep your eye out as Volume 2 and 3 become available. I definitely will be picking them up!

Do you like sports fiction?
Favorite sport to read about?

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