Gold Medal Winter

313p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545643771; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545643788. LC 2013029144.
Gr 5–8—When Esperanza Flores earns a spot on the U.S. ladies' ice skating team, she is immediately thrust into an overwhelming atmosphere; not only is she the first Latina Olympic skater, but she is facing backlash after replacing a rising star forced to miss the competition due to injury. There are people who do not believe Espie deserves her place on the team. In between training, Espie must juggle costume decisions and press junkets, in which she is frequently interviewed side-by-side with fellow Olympian and hockey player Danny Morrison. Tension erupts between the two young athletes and is not helped by the rumors circulating about their supposed relationship. Teammates Stacie and Meredith are mean-spirited, which rattles Espie in a nearly catastrophic way. While the press links her to Morrison, Espie is excited to receive attention from the charming top male figure skater, Hunter Willis. Skating terms are sprinkled throughout the narrative and are explained smoothly for readers unfamiliar with the sport. Freitas maintains a solid balance between description, dialogue, and action. Espie's Dominican heritage is proudly depicted and her relationships with friends and adults in her life, including her mother, her mother's coworkers, and her coach, are positive but not treacly. Readers will eagerly follow Espie's arduous and dramatic road to the Olympics and her final performance, cheering her on to the inevitable but entirely satisfying conclusion.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

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