Customer Reviews: Winning Balance: What I've Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams
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on June 7, 2012
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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on June 6, 2012
"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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on June 5, 2012
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 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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on December 18, 2013
I read this first to see if it's appropriate for my tweenish daughter, a gymnastic fan, and I feel it is. It is NOT primarily a memoir of her gymnastics training, experiences, or career, so if you are looking for that, this isn't it. She does of course talk about it, but it doesn't provide a lot of details on the training or moves itself. Her emphasis is her personal journey to date, and the second half is all post-Olympics, talking about her Dancing With The Stars experience, and her personal struggles to make sense of her life post-gymnastics. She talks a lot about her Christian faith in this part of the book, but I didn't feel it was proselytizing or judgmental. She is young, so it does seem immature compared to most memoirs- but most memoirs aren't written when someone is 20! For the short life she has had, she has done a lot, and she has a great optimism and heart to her. So if you are a fan, and/or a young girl or woman, you will probably really appreciate this book.
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on March 26, 2015
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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on November 30, 2015
I love Shawn Johnson so much! She is such a good role model for girls and I am so excited to read this book. She is one of my favorite gymnasts of all time because of her attitude and personality combined with a determination to be the best.
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VINE VOICEon September 1, 2012
Because my daughter is a competitive gymnast, I knew this was a book we'd have to own as soon as I discovered it. Our family remembers well rooting for Shawn in the 2008 gymnastics. Watching her smile and intensity. The way she sparkled as she competed.

When I handed my daughter this book, I was curious whether it would resonate with her or be one she started and then put down. The pages flipped pretty fast as she learned more about Shawn and her journey. The book pairs her journey with her spiritual journey. It's told in a way that perfectly targets teens. The style is conversational taking you behind the scenes in the events in her life. Each chapter also ends with a Lesson I've Learned: a nugget of truth that applies to all of us.

This is a sports memoir with spiritual applications. A worthwhile read, and one I look forward to reading with my daughter next time.
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on November 25, 2012
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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on July 6, 2013
Shawn, though young, has packed a whole lifetime of wisdom into this book. She has been through some tough things and worked hard. I loved seeing her win on "Dancing with the Stars" and enjoyed reading how that came to be. She has a "what I've learned" box for every chapter and she seems to have remained remarkably unscathed from being in the public limelight. She also gave good insight into what it takes to be a winner--ATTITUDE is a great deal of it! Her parents provided a rock for her to balance on in her career--well done!
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on April 24, 2013
I found this book interesting and easy to read. It was a good book overall. I have always liked watching gymnastics, although it makes me nervous. I wasn't very familiar with Shawn Johnson because I didn't see much of the Olympics the year she was there. I knew of her, and was curious to know her story. My daughter recently started taking gymnastics classes and I happened to come across this book. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but it was a good read. I would recommend it to people who are curious about the world of gymnastics, or who are fans of this gymnast.
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