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

4.6 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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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 (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have always been a huge fan of Shawn Johnson even before all her fame from the Olympics. I follow gymnastics pretty heavily since I am a former gymnast/diver and she has always been one of my favorite gymnasts to watch. When I heard she had an autobiography about her coming out I had to get it. This book did not disappoint, it was interesting to hear about what she thought about the Olympics and post Olympics and training and just really about her life outside of gymnastics. I recommend to anyone who likes Shawn Johnson and wants to know more about her rather than just her Olympic gymnastics career. It also sends a lot of positive vibes for people to overcome difficulties in their lives.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I received this book free. As an Auto-Biography it was okay although I stopped reading it for a while as another book looked more interesting. As a Christian Auto-Biography it fell short.

Shawn Johnson describes her early childhood and experiences leading up to her winning Gold and Silver medals at the Beijing Olympic Games. A lot of the book was about her training as a gymnast which I didn't relate to but I'm sure would be of interest to other gymnasts. I liked her honesty and descriptions of her personal struggles although I felt in places that she revealed too much detail (e.g a romantic relationship with a man that broke up with his girlfriend for her) that she will wish she had kept to herself later in life. I felt sorry for her as she describes her terror on learning that she had a stalker who had been on his way to abduct her during her training for a dance competition. Also as she describes her struggles with a serious knee injury later in the book.

There are many of these "Christian" Auto-Biographies that read more like "self help" manuals for how to navigate life with the most positive attitude you can muster. God seems to then be tagged onto the end as an afterthought. There are Bible verses and secular "self-help" quotations intermingled throughout the book. After winning her Gold medal and a dance competition Shawn realises that there is more to life than winning competitions, she feels an emptiness in her life and almost turns to God to fill it, almost but not quite....it was frustrating reading at this point as I was expecting her salvation testimony especially when the chapter was entitled "How God became more real to me," but she always seems to weather the storm and then continue as before...
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