Break the Fall – a book review

Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli was released Feb 18th.

I finished it in less than 24 hours.

That’s surprising since I’m decidedly NOT the target audience for Young Adult / Teen romance.

This novel is heavy on Gymnastics, light on the typical YA cliché teen crushes and rivalries.

Jennifer: For me, when writing sports fiction, the sport itself is what the plot will stem from, so it’s almost impossible for me to write a book about sports that doesn’t heavily include the competition, practices and training that would be a major part of any athlete’s life.

Often we’ll see books about an athlete that’s injured or an athlete that had to give up their sport as an exploration of their identity away from the thing they love, but that’s been done so much, I’m more interested in what it takes to strive to compete at the highest levels, to try to win and what happens when you do (or don’t).  …

And the Gymnastics is well informed.

I assumed Jennifer was an ex-gymnast or coach, but she’s actually a kick-butt librarian.  Her sports were tennis and softball.

Jennifer: “… what I worked on the most was making sure the gymnasts were portrayed as realistically as possible, in and out of the gym. …”

The American National Team Director is lead away in handcuffs, accused of tampering with drug test results. Later charged with sexual assault.

When the rest of the Federation supports him, the equivalent of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee suspends the equivalent of USAG and delivers the U.S. Olympic team to a new coach only weeks before the Tokyo Olympics.

That’s a good plot device.

Jennifer loosely based the new Olympic coach on Kim Zmeskal.

She was inspired to write a Gymnastics novel after following the Nassar / USAG scandal: “… people in a position of power abusing athletes or failing to protect athletes from abuse …”

The story starts at Olympic trials 2020. Ends on the last day of Apparatus Finals in Tokyo.

If you are wondering whether your gymnasts should read this book it does have a lot of profanity. And there is discussion of sexual abuse though none of that is graphic.

The audio version is available on Scribd and Audible.


Published by

Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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