Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: Courage to Soar

I'm an olympic nut.  I can't help but get sucked in every 2 years (alternating winter and summer olympics).  The pageantry, prevails of the human spirit, the ups and downs of competition.  Ah!  I love it all.  Now, I'm a HUGE gymnastics fan.  I'm not an every four years kind of girl- I'm always up to date on the latest athletes, scores, and drama of it all.  Its a bit embarrassing, but I don't care.  So, when an opportunity to review the autobiography of possibly the Greatest Gymnast of ALL Time was presented to me, I jumped at the chance.  Simone Biles may have left into the hearts of living room watchers this summer at the Rio Olympics, but she has been making a case for greatness since 2013.  Her unfounded success in the gym paired with an unusual gymnastics backstory and a seemingly grounded personality makes her unique and intriguing.
Biles began her life in Ohio, living with her troubled and addicted mother and siblings.  After a stint in foster care, she and her sister were adopted by her biological grandfather and his wife.  A move to Texas and a family and stability she longed for allowed Simone to flourish.  Her extraordinary ability to bounce, flip, and climb was noticed, but more as a nuisance and a way for the diagnosed ADHD child to burn off energy each day.  Finally, at the age of 6 (late for elite gymnasts), she entered her first gymnastics class and quickly climbed the levels in the sport.  After a disappointing elite season in 2011, Simone came back stronger than ever and has been on top every since.  Multiple world championship medals and now a haul of olympic medals stamp her legacy of possibly the greatest gymnast of all time.

Bile's autobiography walks candidly through high and low points along the journey from foster care to olympic glory.  Given that she is still a young lady, many of the trials are of friendship, schooling, and the sort.  However, given the unique mindset of an elite professional athlete, there are deeper moments to enjoy.  I loved the insight into the US training camps held in Texas as well as some of the behind the scenes gymnastic tidbits.  This book is a fun easy read for gymnastics fans and a great read for tweens/teens.  I think my 10 year old may even like most of it, though some of the insights into foster care and adoption may be a bit over her head.  If you read this book to enjoy a great story from a remarkable athlete and young lady, you won't be disappointed. 

*I received a copy of this book for free in return for my unbiased review.