Review: Tumbling by Caela Carter

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.

Title: Tumbling
Author: Caela Carter
Publication date: June 7, 2016

The days leading up to the Olympics were the perfect time to read Tumbling, as the book takes place entirely over the two days of the Olympic Trials for gymnastics. It’s fairly long book to be set over such a short time period, but there are five different viewpoints, five of the twelve girls vying for the five Olympic spots. There are also three alternate places up for grabs, so most of the girls are going to get at least a trip to the training camp in Italy. But who wants to be an alternate anyway?

Monica, maybe. Her coach isn’t even training her for the Olympics, but for college gymnastics. Even an alternate spot on the team would be more than most people expect of her. Monica, along with Wilhelmina, is my favorite character. It’s easy to root for the underdog, and Wilhelmina has things working against her, too. Her age, for one. She’s no Oksana Chusovitina, but Wilhelmina missed the last Olympics by being born four days too late. She’s 19 now, and even though the Olympics is her dream, she’s beginning to think of her future after the sport.

Everything you would expect in a book about gymnastics is present in Tumbling. Of course a book about gymnastics wouldn’t be complete without an eating disorder, and this book also has a villainous head of selection committee. The author doesn’t even try to disguise Marta Karolyi; they even have the same initials, reversed. There’s a lot of drama, both gymnastics drama (“She’s beating me, I hate her!”) and life drama (over boys, parents, futures), in this book. It all seems realistic, even the cattiness demonstrated by some of the girls. They’re all trying to reach the same goal, one that they been for years to achieve, and there’s nothing that says they have to be best friends. Sure, the Olympic team always acts like they are, but who knows how real that is. And really, in a month, we won’t even care.

I liked the little details of Tumbling, like Wilhelmina (who is African-American) reflecting on the chalk that gymnasts use being white and standing out against her skin. I thought of that again as I sit here writing this review, watching Gabby Douglas on beam, her legs covered in white chalk. And Grace, teaching Monica to smile and wave at the cameras in her face, because that’s what the network wants.

I admit it, I cheated and flipped to the back of the book to see who made the Olympic team. I was invested enough in these girls, especially my two favorites, that I just had to know!

4 stars



  1. Looks like a good book for the Olympics! I’m an Olympics junkie and watch as much as I can, although I missed most of the gymnastics so far. I’ve seen a few reviews for this one around, and your comments about the villanous head of selection and how we won’t care in a month made me laugh. 🙂 Yeah there always has to be a villain! Still it sounds like it gets a lot of details right, so that’s nice. Enjoy the Games if you’re watching them!
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