Narrator: Emily Eiden
Published by Listening Library on June 7th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Sports & Recreation, General, Girls & Women, Social Themes, Young Adult, Social Issues, Adolescence
Length: 10 hrs.
Tumbling gives you an inside view into the world of competitive gymnastics, as twelve Olympic hopefuls compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. The competition is cutthroat and nail biting as you follow the rankings after each event. If you’re a gymnastics fan, Tumbling will get you even more revved up for this year’s Summer Olympics.
Tumbling follows five Olympic hopefuls over the course of the two-day Olympic trials:
Grace is a perfectionist who puts a lot of pressure on herself to win. Her father is her coach and he is very rough on her. She’s struggling with a secret that is getting increasingly harder to hide.
Leigh is Grace’s friend and competitor. While Grace is homeschooled though, Leigh attends high school to try to balance gymnastics with a normal life. Leigh hates that she’s called the “linebacker” of the team and is also hiding a secret that she worries will hurt her career.
Camille is one of the older gymnasts, and she has something to prove this one last time for her loved ones who’ve supported her. But, her heart isn’t into the competition, and she thinks she’d rather do something for herself instead.
Wilhelmina also has one last chance at her Olympic dreams (she was too young to qualify four years ago) and she’s very focused on making it happen.
Monica is the new girl who is overshadowed by her teammate Grace. She doesn’t hope to qualify for the team this time around but a little boost from the other girls helps give her more confidence.
With five different viewpoints it takes a few chapters to keep track of all the characters, but the girls each have strong personalities and paths that make them easier to tell apart.
One of the only sports I follow in the Olympics is gymnastics so that made the terminology easier for me to follow, though there was still new lingo for me to learn. (There’s a glossary of terms in the print version of Tumbling)
The book covers each rotation over the course of the two-day Olympic trials. The action is fast-paced and tense as each girl competes and we see how the rankings shake out at the end of the day. It’s a gripping read and I was invested as much as I would be watching an actual competition.
I listened to the Tumbling audiobook, read by Emily Eiden. At first, listening puts you at a disadvantage because it’s harder to keep track of five viewpoints. You don’t have the cheat sheet gymnast bio to refer to that is in the printed book, and you have to listen to the rankings read out rather than being able to take the time to absorb them in print. But, I’m glad I listened because I think the audio played up the tenseness of the competition. I listened to this audiobook in just over a day (speeding it up to 1.5x) and couldn’t put it down. Eiden sounds age appropriate for this YA audiobook and gave each character a distinct personality. She also gets to have fun with some of the villainy characters of the book. If you’re not a big audiobook listener this might be a tricky one to start with (making a cheat sheet of all the characters might help!) but I enjoyed this listen.
Check out a sample:
Check out Tumbling if you have Olympic fever or love sports YA stories. The friendships, competition drama, and personal struggles combine for a riveting read. Compare Tumbling with the real thing as the Women’s Olympic trials unfold on July 8 and 10.