cover image Break the Fall

Break the Fall

Jennifer Iacopelli. Razorbill, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-11417-9

In this timely novel by Iacopelli (the Outer Banks Tennis Academy series), 17-year-old Korean-American gymnast Audrey Lee, working to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in spite of recent back surgery, finds her lifetime dream on the line for complex reasons. One day after qualifying to represent the U.S., Audrey’s team gets the astonishing news that one of their members has been suspended for doping. Several days later, they learn that their coach has been arrested for allegedly falsifying those drug results and sexually abusing the same girl. Tension builds as the athletes’ training team is fired and the young women begin working under a new coach with unorthodox methods, including visualization. Plagued by back pain and constantly worrying that every routine might be her last, Audrey’s emotional roller coaster grows more turbulent when she’s forced to put her budding romance with her new coach’s son on hold. Detailed descriptions of training sessions and step-by-step accounts of gymnastics routines combine with #MeToo considerations and dramatic friendship shifts to create a fraught behind-the-scenes look at the lives of young Olympic hopefuls. Particularly compelling is the international female gymnasts’ demonstration of unity against sexual harassment, a show of empowerment in every arena. Ages 12–up.[em] Agent: Alice Sutherland-Hawes, Madeleine Milburn. (Feb.) [/em]