A contemporary young adult romance about moving on, finding your place, and recovering after life falls apart.
Gymnast Caroline Kepler has three state balance beam titles, a new trick even most elites can’t do—and chronic, undeniable back pain. While she might never be an Olympian, she has dreams of leveling up to elite, making Nationals, and competing in college. But when one epic face-plant changes all that and Caroline’s back pain goes from chronic to career-ending, her dreams are shattered and her life is flipped upside down.
Enter Alex Zavala, a three-sport athlete who’s both incredibly cute and incredibly off-limits. He offers to give Caroline a crash course in all the sports she’s missed, and she has an offer for him in return: For every sport Alex teaches her, she’ll play matchmaker for him. Deal done, Caroline “dates” new sports with Alex for the rest of the summer, which is loads more fun than wallowing in despair. Just as Caroline starts to see herself as more than her past athletic successes, she picks up something she didn’t bargain for: a big fat crush on Alex.
Turns out life was way easier when it was just layout-fulls and beam burns....
Fifteen-year-old Kansas native Caroline Kepler is on her way to becoming a member of an elite gymnastics team when a bad fall off the balance beam worsens her already compromised back, forcing her to quit. Devastated, Caro withdraws emotionally, believing she has no identity without gymnastics until her older brother's best friend, tennis star and all-around athlete Alex Zavala, offers to coach her in a different sport every week during the summer until she finds a new niche. Suddenly, Caro's free time is filled with learning the rudiments of volleyball, running, and golf, until she eventually settles on tennis. As thanks for Alex's coaching, Caro intends to set him up with his longtime crush Sunny Chavez, Caro's former gymnastics teammate. But when Caro realizes that she has feelings for Alex, she must maneuver her own vacillating self-worth, her brother's disapproval of the duo's potential relationship, and nerves surrounding an impending tennis tournament. Former sports journalist and gymnast Henning (The Queen Will Betray You) writes with experience and compassion, never underplaying Caro's grief over the future she believes she's lost. Supportive and bighearted characters populate this optimistic novel. Most characters cue as white; Sunny reads as Latinx. Ages 12–up.