Sunday 21 January 2024

Review: Winner Takes Gold by Eloise Smith (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

  4th January 2024, Chicken House, 320 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Chicken House

It takes courage to follow your dreams . . . 

Young gymnast Pearl dreams of winning gold in Paris. It’s what Mum would have wanted.

However, elite training camp is super tough, even with the help of best friend Ryan and rising star, Jada-Rae.

Think ice baths, rivalry … sabotage.

When others will do anything to win, what will Pearl risk? Safety? Morals? Friendships?

This thrilling tale reminds us sport is about more than medals. It’s about making friends, being brave and freeing your soul.

Nayu's thoughts

I read this after a YA thriller, and honestly I was at at times more scared by the antics in Winner Takes Gold than the thriller. Partly because at least the killer in that novel was obvious about what they were up to, and partly because after the TV show Pretty Little Liars it takes a lot to scare me in a thrilling tale. I know, death is worse than gymnastic pranks but the pranks were serious and got the various competitors out of the training scheme. And I felt like Pearl didn't know who to trust, that included her best friend Ryan. Would Pearl be next? 

Once she and Ryan investigated a little, before they fell out, it seemed that so many of the staff and pupils were prime suspects. I had a sneaky feeling the staff's actions were less suspicious than they seemed  - as an adult I know how certain actions taken out of context by younger people can seem suspicious but its just part of someone's private life, not actually anything illegal.

How books start sets up the whole story, and Pearl being at her mother's grave was really touching. She has so much to live for and keeps her mum included in her gymnastic dreams. I like how realistic it was the way Pearl got onto the special program, and how by the end she does stick to her good principles even though it cost her her dream. I know competitive gymnastics is cut-throat, and Pearl does well to survive. I hope she gets to shine again and we get another tale with her as she has learned a lot in this adventure. 

 Find out more on Eloise's website, I'm certainly going to check out her other book, Sister To a Star


Suggested read

If you like heartwarming tales try The Girl The Cat, and the Navigator by Matilda Woods and Anusker Allepuz (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E) 


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