In August of 2016, I found myself constantly glued to my television watching the Summer Olympic Games. My favorite Olympic sport has always been gymnastics and the 2016 American women’s gymnastics team – known as the Final Five – were something special.
I Got This: To Gold and Beyond (©2017) is a new book written by Laurie Hernandez, the youngest member of the final five. At only 16 years old, Laurie became an Olympic medalist, winning gold for the team event and an individual silver on the balance beam.
In her first memoir, aimed at young readers, Laurie recounts her humble beginnings growing up with her parents and two older siblings in a small suburban township in New Jersey. Laurie started gymnastics at the age of six, not knowing that only ten years later her perseverance and natural talent would take her all the way to Olympic gold. But Laurie’s life as a gymnast has not been without its share of hurdles. In 2014 Laurie suffered a knee injury that put her career as a gymnast in jeopardy. Laurie’s remarkably candid account of her difficult recovery and her road to the 2016 Olympics is part of what makes this book a compelling read.
Young gymnasts, or anyone looking to learn more about the sport, are in for a treat. Laurie shares plenty of insider info on the world of gymnastics and what it’s like to compete in the Olympics. The endnotes also include a glossary of gymnastics terms.
16-year-old Laurie wrote the book herself and it shows – in a good way. Laurie’s young, energetic voice bursts off the page. The story is something akin a conversation with a good friend, rather than a stuffy biography. Kids will be able to relate to Laurie who, despite having many achievements under her belt at such a young age, is still very down-to-earth. I recommend I Got This: To Gold and Beyond for ages 8-13.