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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics. A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She's made the United States' gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She's on top of the world. The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips t…

Break the Fall

by Jennifer Iacopelli

Overall Book Review:

As a child, I remember being fascinated by gymnastics. My friends and I even set up a little gymnastics course for a few days and rated each other on our “performances”. I think the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that we saw on TV were what spurred my interest. So, you can imagine that Break the Fall was a fun opportunity to reminisce about my gymnastics obsession. Recently, there has been some nasty news about the USA women’s gymnastics team doctor, and I think this book kind of riffs off of that with a relevant story of a young girl and her teammates who realize that it’s easier to get taken advantage of than it might seem and that you can’t always trust the adults in your life. 

In Break the Fall, readers are introduced to Audrey Lee and her teammates–a group of girls who seem to have each other’s backs. However, they also have a bad habit of gossiping and taking sides. When their coach is accused of blackmailing a gymnast and sexual abuse, it’s clear that Audrey fears she might lose all that she holds dear. The drama here is palpable; a bunch of strong and smart young women training together for the opportunity of a lifetime leaves very little room for being calm and collected, even on the mat and balance beam. Add in the fact that they just lost their coach, and things get a little messy. 

I loved how fast-paced this book was. It seemed like I had just cracked it open and a moment later, Audrey was at the Olympics competing! I don’t know a lot of what happens behind the scenes at the Olympics, so it was interesting to imagine what the energy might feel like, how stressful and yet also invigorating it must be. Reading this book, I got to follow Audrey and her teammates into the (albeit fictional) Olympic village and onto the mat during the Games themselves. 

It was tough to judge the recommended age for this book because I know I would have picked it up to read as a young teen were it available; however, I think my parents would have frowned on some of the mature themes. Nowadays the references in this book are pretty mild by most standards though, and I think that the topics in this book are covered very gently and without much detail in what seems an appropriate manner for the intended audience. 

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Razorbill

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  11 religious exclamations; 18 mild obscenities; 5 derogatory names; 11 scatological words; 7 anatomical terms; 13 F-Word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  A minor is mentioned to have some visible bruising from a surfing incident; minors are mentioned to sustain injuries through gymnastics training. 

Sex/Nudity:  A boy flirts with a girl; a group of girls talk about the physique of a boy that they think is attractive and verbalize sexual innuendo; a teen boy and girl flirt and almost kiss; a teen boy sends a shirtless picture to a girl he is attracted to; an adult is accused of sexual assault of a minor; speculation about the relationship between a minor and her coach, an affair is mentioned; an insensitive comment about rape is made; a teen boy and girl who are attracted to each other hug and kiss briefly; minors decide to undress to their underwear to swim; rumors fly about a coach and minor athlete engaging in sexual intercourse.

Mature Subject Matter:

Sexual assault/abuse; fraud (tampering with a drug test), cheating; blackmail.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Mandatory drug test comes back positive for drug use by a minor; beer cans and vodka bottles mentioned to be in vicinity of minors and it is implied that minors are drinking.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.