1. Tumbling by Caela Carter
Five gymnasts. One goal.
Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.
Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life…and a secret that could ruin everything.
Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.
Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.
Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?
By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.
I read Tumbling towards the end of August right as the Olympics were ending and it was the PERFECT read to say goodbye to one of the few sporting events I follow. Tumbling takes place in a very short time frame during the two days of the U.S. Olympic trials. It follows the five girls mention in the synopsis, and they all get their own POVs throughout their rotations. You don’t have to be a huge gymnastics fan to appreciate Tumbling, but the sport is a big focus. These five girls have lives that revolve around gymnastics. . . whether they want to or not, and that influences everything they do, from dealing with eating disorders to keeping quiet about sexuality. What I really love about Tumbling, though, was that it looks at five girls with a ton of ambition, and how that affects them. I had my favorite of the five(Monica, the underdog), but I really enjoyed reading about all five girls and where they ended up by the end of the Olympic trials. 4/5 stars.
2. Watchmen by Alan Moore
This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.
One of the most influential graphic novels of all time and a perennial best-seller, Watchmen has been studied on college campuses across the nation and is considered a gateway title, leading readers to other graphic novels such as V for Vendetta, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and The Sandman series.
I am about to say something generally considered blasphemous in the comic world: I could not stand this book. Not even a little bit. Now, before you get your pitchforks. . . I respect what this work has accomplished for comics in the world. It ushered in a new age of comics, from all accounts, and I can clearly see the strings of this book in many modern comics(which may also be why I don’t particularly care for dark superhero comics, but. . . that’s for another day). But as a story? Nah. My two main issues with Watchmen is that it lacks any subtlety. It’s not a narrative, it’s a Message. The story gets lost in the methodological cleverness (and it is clever! I won’t deny that). Now, I love strong themes and cleverness, but if it can’t stand on its own as a work of fiction, why bother trying to tell a story? 2/5 stars.
3. Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for consideration of an honest review.
Flynn’s girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?
Flynn’s girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can’t answer, and her friends are telling stories that don’t add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January’s boyfriend, he must know something.
But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.
I liked everything about this book. . . except for the central mystery, which is slightly unfortunate. It failed to hook me in the beginning and stayed that way until the last twenty percent of the novel. However, I actually DID like this book despite not loving the plot because like I said, I loved everything else. And that’s a lot to love, so it all balanced out in the end to a general like without strong feelings either way. Flynn’s relationships with everyone are just so well done. I love his friendship and what happens when he comes out. I love the friendship and maybe-relationship he strikes up with Kaz, a co-worker of Flynn’s missing girlfriend. And I really, really loved the resolution of this book. Before I started tracking my progress with this book on Goodreads, I saw this review by Dahlia Adler that discusses how refreshing it is to see a lack of misogyny in this book, and I completely agree. It’s what I liked the most, how careful and considerate it all was of January’s agency and past choices.
But, unfortunately, like I stated early, the mystery of this book didn’t grab me. Even though it was clear Flynn cared about January, there was an almost detachment in his narration, which gave me trouble. It’s possible it was intention, but that’s not the read I got. I also found some of Flynn’s vocabulary choices odd — Flynn has a really advanced vocabulary to the point where I had to look up what words meant multiple times, which has not happened since I was. . . seven? I have an English degree, working on a graduate degree, and I read over 100 books a year. I totally believe that a high school student could have a larger vocabulary than me, I just found it odd how advanced Flynn’s vocabulary was. It pulled me out of the story occasionally. 3.5-ish/5 stars.