By Donna Freitas
Available now from Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)
Esperanza Flores, called Espi, is a sixteen-year-old figure skater who gets her big break when she places second at Nationals the year one of the top US skaters is out with a knee injury. Unexpectedly, she's on the US Olympic team.
I love figure skating. I did it myself as a child, and I've never forgotten how much fun it is. Plus, it's one of the funnest sports to watch. Thus, I had very high hopes for GOLD MEDAL WINTER. For the most part, it delivered.
I liked that GOLD MEDAL WINTER emphasizes that ice skating is tough and requires a great deal of practice and dedication. Like most performers and athletes, Espi is superstitious. Belief in yourself and not giving into mind games or the pressure is also part of winning. But Espi gets caught up in a lot of drama on her way to the games.
I really didn't like the love triangle in GOLD MEDAL WINTER. Espi has made it the the Olympics, something she's been working for for years, but instead she's going to spend her time worrying about boys? Like Espi's coach, I was disappointed that she was giving into the drama. I was also disappointed that in the end, their isn't much description of Espi's routines.
GOLD MEDAL WINTER is a quick middle-grade read that will satisfy ice skating and Olympics fans. Author Donna Freitas incorporates a lot of detail about how the team is picked and such that adds to the verisimilitude of the story. Espi's Dominican heritage also adds another layer of interest to the story. Predicting the ending isn't much trouble, but the journey is fun.