Devon Knox had an accident as a young child that resulted in the amputation of a few toes on her foot. But that has not stopped her from being the rising star in gymnastics. She trains for hours every day on top of keeping up good grades. She is determined to be in the elite, then on to the Olympics. Her parents are buried in debt but they are taking the risk for the chance of their daughter to be an Olympian. They fear the puberty that could come any day, the high risk that everything could be ruined by one tiny mistake in a routine, and that one small mistake could cause an injury that can’t be bounced back from. But they face it all to make Devon a household name.
But one night, something goes terribly wrong in their small gymnastics community and it is another name that is spoken in every household.
It took me over 2 weeks to read this book because I dreaded picking it back up. The characters lacked depth and I could not establish any kind of connection with any of them. The parents, Eric and Katie, were immature, narcissistic, and oblivious. They consistently ignored their son, Drew, in order to focus on themselves or mostly on their oldest daughter, Devon. Drew, however, was written to not mind being ignored and to be very laid back. He “understood” the attention that had to go to Devon and “never had a problem with it”. Not only did it come across as very unrealistic but it also came across as useless. Devon did not demand attention outside of the gymnastics gym, rather she kept to herself and kept secrets. Devon clearly favored her father and (in somewhat of a juvenile retaliation) her mother, Katie, stuck to Drew. Poor Drew developed Scarlet Fever and still received little attention from his family. His mother even left him alone in the car and then revealed that it was not the first time she had done that. She had left him in the car because she had forgotten he was even in there when he was much younger. They put Devon into a fellow gymnast’s home (read: mansion) so she wouldn’t catch what Drew had. The fellow gymnast whose mother footed the bill for the renovations to the gymnastics training center. This mother, Gwen, footed the bill after much wining and dining with Devon’s father, Eric, so that his daughter could improve with better equipment. Oh, and Gwen’s daughter, Lacey, could also improve. But no one would ever be as good as Devon!
Not only were the characters a disappointment but the writing was also hard to appreciate, in my opinion. The plot did not flow well, neither did the chapters. There were snippets of paragraphs that seemed to be copied and pasted to piece together a chapter rather than being more fluid. There were even paragraphs that could have been “pasted” together and it would have flowed better. It was jagged and frustrating to read. Furthermore, there was a lot of repetition for minor details that came across as redundant to me. Katie’s ringtone being the same song that Devon has a floor routine to, saying “I love him so much!”, are just two examples. I have heard many great things about Megan Abbott and, as a result, had looked forward to receiving an ARC of this book. I cannot say that I would have that same excitement in the future.
I would not recommend this book. I think I have made that very clear. Furthermore, I would certainly not recommend this book for those who may be sensitive to foul language, violence, tumultuous relationships, murder, manipulation, parental neglect, and sexually suggestive scenarios.
Please note: an advance reader copy of this book was generously provided electronically by the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.