Winning Balance: What I've Learned So Far About Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams
This is an autobigraphy about Shawn Johnson the "pint-sized gymnast" from Iowa who went to the Olympics in Beijing and was on the TV show "Dancing with the Stars."
I found this to be a good book, and the behind the scenes look at the world of gymnastics was interesting. Shawn Johnson's story is inspiring, as the back cover of the book promises.
November 13, 2012
A winning read, indeed!
Shawn Johnson tells her story from birth and adventurous youngster to top gymnast and finding a balance when some of the drama died down. Shawn opens up her life and her heart to her readers, as well as inspiring and encouraging along the way.
I immensely enjoyed reading Shawn's storyas she shared from her heart the trials she'd been through as well as the joys. I liked how she shared about her faith and how she had grown in a variety of ways during different parts of her life.
The book had an engaging conversational tone to it, that made it feel more personal.
I think that my favorite parts of the books were the ones about the struggles she faced and overcame after the 2008 Beijing Olympics were over and how she found her sense of joy again.
Overall an inspiring read about faith, determination, love, and dreaming big. This is a book that shows the world the true Shawn Johnson. A book I enjoyed the whole way through, I highly recommend!
September 20, 2012
Because my daughter is a competitive gymnast, I knew this was a book we'd have to own as soon as I discovered it. Our family remembers well rooting for Shawn in the 2008 gymnastics. Watching her smile and intensity. The way she sparkled as she competed.
When I handed my daughter this book, I was curious whether it would resonate with her or be one she started and then put down. The pages flipped pretty fast as she learned more about Shawn and her journey. The book pairs her journey with her spiritual journey. It's told in a way that perfectly targets teens. The style is conversational taking you behind the scenes in the events in her life. Each chapter also ends with a Lesson I've Learned: a nugget of truth that applies to all of us.
This is a sports memoir with spiritual applications. A worthwhile read, and one I look forward to reading with my daughter next time.
September 1, 2012
The First Half of an Unfinished Memoir
Shawn Johnson competed as an elite gymnast in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in the years just preceding. This autobiography describes her journey there and back with some of her personal poetry inserted at illuminating points.
Some things are immediately apparent when reading this book. First, the author is still so young, barely twenty years old at the time it was published. Shawn still has so much of her life ahead of her, a memoir would seem inappropriate where it not for the fact that she has already accomplished so much.
Second, despite what Shawn may think, immaturity is still very apparent in both her writing style and her self analysis. This is very much a book by a teenage girl, and one who displays the ironies of any child prodigy: extreme maturity where she is most gifted and a huge amount of unrecognized sheltering in every other area of life. It's part journal, part expose, part catharsis. She spends two or three paragraphs describing bargaining for fake designer jeans in Beijing, and only a sentence describing an international competition. She is upfront about her dating history, and manages to completely gloss over the emotional strain of maintaining a relationship while competing at an international level and keeping on homework. She talks about how exciting and great it was to be in Beijing alone without her parents for six weeks combined with the extreme homesickness and pressure she was under; but it isn't until she mentions that she spent an hour crying on the phone to her Mom every week that we get an idea of what that pressure really looks like.
In the end we are left with half a portrait, a glimpse into the life of a young olympian. There is obviously a lot more story to tell, and maybe Shawn will tell it and maybe she won't. The rest of the story isn't as necessary as one might guess. Reading between the line offers more insight than I think Shawn was prepared to give, and the lessons she has learned and offered - with her experiences as proof - are valuable and valid, even if it is obvious that she has only begun to live out these lessons in real life.
I would especially recommend this book to young girls/women. Many girls have looked up to Shawn as a role model, with good reason. She is an outstanding example of someone who has worked hard to make the most of the opportunities and talents she has been given. Reading her book can be a huge encouragement to those who are similar minded.
I would also recommend this book to those who are a little older, a little more mature. Shawn hasn't gone to college yet, hasn't had her first regular paying job yet. Yes, she toured the country for weeks as part of gymnastics and dance shows, doing her own laundry and planning her own meals without her parents telling her to. But now - with her recent announcement that she is permanently retiring from gymnastics - the very balance in her life which gave her book a title has been completely upset.
The balance she maintained for the first twenty years of her life was extraordinary. So many things have made her into a truly remarkable young woman. Her talents in gymnastics and competition, reaching out to others and encouraging them in health and fitness, and inspiring thousands to do more and reach higher has set her apart her entire life until now. Finishing this book, I was left with a feeling of amazement at how turbulent her life has been so far, and wonder as to the woman she will be twenty years from now.
July 17, 2012