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Winning Balance: What I've Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams Hardcover – June 5, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Olympic gold-medalist gymnast Johnson has written an endearing memoir of her rise to winning three silver medals and one gold at age 16. Every bit as interesting are her accounts of coping with the aftermath of fame, both as an Olympic champion and as a reality-TV star on Dancing with the Stars. Among the details: slips on the balance beam in front of Olympic judges, spats with parents, learning to wear heels, and realizing that what looks good on TV―makeup and hair extensions―can look strange in person. Johnson’s “balanced” beginnings seem almost too idyllic at the start of the book, but as her struggle toward Olympic glory plays out, we come to appreciate the sturdy values of parents who knew instinctively to honor her high energy and uniqueness. Johnson emerges as a powerhouse champion with a winning attitude, always making the best of circumstances, even an injury that could have ended her career. Her book celebrates both family love and faith in God as wellsprings of strength. A solid offering from a woman wiser than her years suggest she might be. (Booklist)

From the Inside Flap

What the World Is Saying about Shawn Johnson
“Perhaps the best gymnast in the world―a compact, powerful package who is just as at home on the beam and bars as she is in the vault and floor events. . . . Shawn Johnson has an easy smile and confidence and rarely betrays the nervousness she says she feels at every competition.”
Time magazine

“She packs the power of someone twice her size yet somehow manages to still look dainty. She tumbles without fear, whether it’s on the floor or up on the balance beam, and makes the toughest tricks look easy. She’s the type of gymnast one can’t help but watch.”
―ESPN.com

“A powerful tumbler and nerveless competitor . . . Johnson smiles and bubbles while competing― a 4' 9" firecracker.”
Sports Illustrated

“Not only an extraordinary athlete, but also something altogether more profound and worthy of cele- bration: an uncommon human being . . . a young woman whose gifts stretch well beyond sports.”
The Christian Science Monitor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale Momentum (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414372108
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414372105
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By T. Luo on June 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I think of Shawn I think of a great athlete with a bubbly personality and a big smile. As a gymnastics fan I would've liked to read more on her dealings with other athletes, coaches, us gymnastic staff, travels, etc. I realize she was still competing while she worked on this book so maybe that played a factor. She did share some stories of her adventure in Beijing and they were fun tales.

I did find the 2nd half of the book (post Olympics) surprising and honest, a lot of highs and lows for a young woman. Although I think she is probably 15-20 years too young to write a memoir on life lessons this is a decent book for a 20 year old athlete and is a fairly entertaining read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Audrey on June 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"I was an interesting combination of nerd, tomboy, and girlie girl," Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson writes in Winning Balance. Shawn knows what it's like to be a girl who doesn't always fit in, who isn't part of the cliques, and who can't always figure out what life is supposed to mean.

She also knows what it's like to lose the gold medal everyone expected her to win--and then to win again where she least expected it.

Winning Balance might best be categorized as an inspirational memoir. With co-author Nancy French, Shawn describes her struggles and successes in finding true balance in life. This is the story of Shawn's journey from her childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, to her introduction to gymnastics, her growing love for the sport--and its competitiveness--and finally to international fame and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Along the way, though, Shawn tries to follow two competing desires--"I wanted to win, and I wanted to be just like everyone else."

My biggest quibble with the book? Since much of its promo material focuses on Shawn's 2008 skiing accident, I expected the book to address this and her recovery process more in depth. It does highlight how Shawn struggled to find purpose and direction after her win--and how the injury actually helped Shawn refocus on her priorities--but don't expect a lot of detail.

Still, I found Shawn's story to be encouraging and enjoyable. The book is an easy read, and each chapter ends with a short thought for reflection. Enthusiasm seems to win out over depth in places, but overall, I found Shawn to be an engaging role model. She talks openly about the pressures she faced and her family's attempts to keep her sane in the midst of an intense training schedule. I liked her sincerity and vision, and I would recommend this book to any teen girl to read.

[My thanks to Tyndale for sending me a review copy of Winning Balance, in exchange for my honest opinion of this book.]
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Booklover2905 on June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Shawn Johnson was a 2008 Olympic gymnast who won three silver medals and one gold and also captured the heart of America. Her energetic smile, pint size body and precious heart attracted many and know she is here to tell her own story. Her story is not the typical Olympic medalist story at all and its not a chronological autobiography either. Winning Balance is more of a memoir filled with lessons learned and how Shawn learned to keep balance in her life. Nothing about her life was typical but at the exact same time she was your typical American girl. She went to public school, participated in school activities, dreamed about her future, but all while she was doing your typical things she was falling in love with gymnastics. She never thought about going to the Olympics till she was older and thought that it was possible. Through it all she was able to live her dreams and more, but had to re learn many times what it takes to keep balance in her life and what really is important.

I can't even tell you how much I loved this book. To be honest I had never heard of Shawn Johnson before I saw this book was coming out (I missed watching the olympics 2008)and I have always been fascinated with the sport. I just knew I had to read her story and I was not disappointed at all. I fell in love with Shawn and her story and find her raw talent and passion to be so encouraging. Shawn drew me into her story so much that I finished the book within 24 hours! Since reading the book I have enjoyed going on youtube.com and watching her many gymnastic performances and her dances from Dancing with the Stars. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves gymnastics, wanting to be encouraged by her strength and faith, and anyone who has already loved her and wants to know her story!

*I received this book through Radiant Lit and Tyndale for the purpose of this review!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brianna Poster on November 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Few books have I read in a single sitting, but Winning Balance was one I couldn't put down. From hearing Shawn Johnson's stories of her Olympic training and trials, it offered an insider's perspective on the life of a professional gymnast.

Johnson combined many elements in her writing. Not only was it filled with her experiences in gymnastics, but also her relationship with God, family, friends and boys. She also discussed a lot of her experience on Dancing with the Stars as well.

A great read for people of any age, I quickly passed it to a young aspiring gymnast who ate up what Johnson had to say. I definitely recommend Winning Balance to anyone looking for inspiration to balance a seemingly impossibly imbalanced life!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rissi on June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There probably are not many of us who have not heard of the pint-sized, gold-medal-winning gymnast who won over the heart of America at the 2008 Olympic Games. If her name is not familiar from the sport that she excels at, then you probably "met" her on the eighth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars (which she also won). This book is a journal of sorts that she has written for her fans about her life so far - her growth in maturity and her faith; the lessons life has taught her and getting back to the place where she is more happy - and healthy. It is rare that I read books in which the celebrity name emblazoned on the front shares their life's story. My tastes seem more suited to fiction but I do not regret having read this book in the least. Not knowing much about Shawn's private life so much as her professional one (even that is limited), I enjoyed getting to "know" her as a person and not a mere celebrated figure who's spotlight was made bright by her appearance at the Olympics - and subsequently her gold-medal win. If you've followed this athlete, I'd wager that in reading this, you will learn a lot of things about Shawn you didn't know. Some that may even surprise you.

Perhaps the most insightful parts of this book are Shawn's profession about her family's faith - their belief in God but infrequent church attendance. Biblically, we are told that Christianity is a hard maintain without gathering with others at Sunday services but I don't believe that someone cannot have a genuine relationship with Christ if they don't attend church. Within these pages, Shawn shares about her growing faith in a heartfelt way that makes the reader believe she enjoys nothing less than a daily walk with Him.
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