My 12 yo daughter LOVED this book! It was the perfect book for a middle school girl (clean content, so younger audiences that are higher readers could do well with this book too). Dana Burkey is a gifted author! A must read if you have a kid that is fascinated with the world of competitive cheer!
When one hears the world “cheerleading”, one of two images will come to mind. It will either be the young girls in skirts with huge pom-poms in their hands standing and jumping on the sidelines to cheer the school’s football team to victory. The other image that may come to mind is a team performing well-orchestrated dances, tumbles, human pyramids and other similar stunts before judges in a competitive setting.
The latter of the two is the setting for this story of a 12 year old tomboy girl who discovers she has a talent for this type of sport and also more about herself. Max usually hangs out with and plays with boys, but when she decides to try some tumbling on a trampoline at a park, it leads her to entirely different world full of glitter, tights, dance and other “girly” things that she doesn’t like.
The story is geared toward “tweens” about the same age as Max with age-appropriate material and language. The dialogue is realistic for the girls who are practicing in the TNT Force gym. The acronym is for the first initial of the three adults who coach the girls. The descriptions of the moves and the sport of cheerleading is excellent as a reader of any age will learn more about the sport and what types of practice and training these young people do in order to perform such a show for the judges and the spectators.
What also makes the story a good one for readers about the same age as Max is that she is constantly feeling conflicted. She hates all the glitter, tight shorts and makeup, yet she knows she is good at the dances, tumbling and flips. She feels out of place and feels the entire gamut of emotions while at the gym from isolation to elation. She looks to adults, including the coaches and her father, for guidance. All of these concepts and more make this a very good book for readers in grades 4-8. It is the first book of a series that will follow Max as she works her way through the ranks. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
I wish to thank Ms. Burkey for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
If the Bring It On movie series was a middle-grade novel, Learning To Fly is it!
I've been seeing this book around Goodreads for awhile and when the author of this book, Dana Burkey, gave me a chance to review this for her, I took the chance!
The book is middle grade and I'm not really reading a lot of middle grade books lately, I usually read young adult. The book won't actually feel it's middle grade, I just realized it was when I learned the main character's age was mentioned in the book.
Reading this actually made me look back on how I was when I was twelve years old. Was I insecure but driven like Max? Was I struggling this hard to make friends? Was I proud and show off-ish? Was I hard to convince in doing new things? The answer to all of those is yes! This reminded me on how I was trying new things and the struggle to do them as a kid. This is the reason why parents should read what their kids are reading! I don't have children, but I personally think that this book would connect so much to kids as much as it connects to parents and adults. Max tells so much about her insecurities and struggles that a parent might want to look at their kids in a new light. Max's dad is such a good example of a parent: loving, supportive, disciplinarian, and so many more. This is such a good way to understand kids in general.
The story and the flow of it is very nicely done. I love how there are moments that matter later on in the story. I love how diverse and real the characters are. I love the description of the cheer leading world and how the author introduced it to the reader. While reading this, I was actually imagining this as a movie, that's why it reminded me so much of the cheerleading movie series, Bring It On. You know, minus the teenage drama (but there are some of it in this book). I just wish I could watch the cheer routines that Max and her squad had done. But I have to admit, I'm glad that was omitted because I can only imagine how hard it is to describe a routine.
The best part about this book is the messages and lessons that the author wants to reach the readers. I won't say those messages and lessons because I want you guys to discover them because it won't be worth it when you read it.
Now for the low parts of the book. I really wanted to give this book a five-star review but I found some stuff that I think is a bit off. I am not a cheerleader. I danced and I have a small knowledge about cheering. There are some parts when the characters describe a cheering move I just cannot grasp very well. I read the phrase or sentence again and again but I cannot imagine it. So if the readers are same as me with less to no knowledge about cheering, they might not understand them too. Another thing, Peter and Kyle. They were mentioned in the book description as Max's friends and really expected them to have a bigger role in the book. I get it that they are not part in most of Max's activities but I think they have more potential as characters.
In general, I love the book very much! I would definitely recommend this book to my kid self. I think that means a lot because it means this book would be a great basis on how I can cope with the struggles of being a kid. I also would definitely recommend this to parents and their kids (especially if the kids are athletes).
I enjoyed reading this book I would like to thank the author for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Congratulations Dana Burkey for a very compelling and driven book!