At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shawn Johnson won a gold medal for her balance beam routine and silver medals in the all-around and floor exercise. Her autobiography, Winning Balance, covers her birth through her second attempt at making the Olympic team. For me, the most interesting parts of the book described what it was like to be an Olympian- living in the Olympic village, interacting with the press, and her post-Olympics stint on Dancing with the Stars. I wasn’t a fan of the “Life Lessons” at the end of each chapter, a short description of what Shawn learned from this period in her life. Example: “… Find something you love, work hard at it, and keep your family a priority. Things have a way of working out from there.” I think it would have been a stronger book without these lessons, but for the tween segment of the audience they may be more impactful.
The full title of the book is Winning Balance: What I’ve Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams and it was published by a Christian imprint. This may be a pro for some readers and a con for others. It is a “clean” book with no swearing or mentions of sex. There are a couple of pages mentioning Shawn’s personal faith journey, but Christianity isn’t a major focus on the book.
Overall, I’d recommend this book for gymnastics fans and tween readers who may better appreciate the inspirational sections.
Winning Balance on Amazon