FALLING HARD by Megan Sparks
Megan Sparks has written a book that crosses boundaries with Falling Hard. On the surface, the lively novel looks like a fish out of water story we’re all familiar with. Annie Turner is a Londoner who gets plunked down in Liberty Heights, Illinois with her father. Her mom and dad are splitting up because her mom’s a workaholic, though Annie is in denial about that to a degree. Her dad is a dreamer, and he’s been the one who’s always supported her in her gymnastics career.
Unfortunately, at five feet eleven and a half inches tall, Annie has grown right out of gymnastics too. So not only are all her friends gone, the world is vastly different than the one she’s used to, but her one true passion – gymnastics – has been taken from her as well. Annie’s world has been turned upside down and inside out.
That’s until she meets Lexie, a new friend whose artistic vision adds color and possibility. Of course, Annie also meets the cheerleader squad, and they turn out to be enemies. In spite of that, Annie tries out for cheerleader because it’s the closest she can come to getting back into gymnastics.
Then she meets Jesse and learns about rollergirls, jammers, and blockers. So not only do readers get a teen against high school issues, but also a nice introduction to a relatively little known sport.
Sparks does a really good job getting into Annie’s world and showing all the trials and doubts she goes through while trying to find herself. The story flows along at a nice clip and keeps the pages turning as problems and setbacks show up with startling regularity. Many of the problems turn out to have relatively simple fixes, but they’re interesting for a time nonetheless.
The relationship Annie has with her dad is really good, showing a strong, healthy involvement and Annie’s own need to live her life apart. This is a fun book, a diversion and an exploration of a sport that many young readers may not know that much about, and not filled with angsty moments. Even Annie’s troubled relationship with her mom isn’t that much of a downer and is handled fairly.
There are some loose ends left at the end of Falling Hard, and a second book is listed, so I’m looking forward to the next entry.