REVIEW : Stick the Landing (Elite Athletes #2) by Kate McMurray
Jake Mirakovitch might be the best gymnast in the world, but there’s one big problem: he chokes in international competition. The least successful of a family of world-class gymnasts, he has struggled to shake off nerves in the past. This time he’s determined to bring home the gold no matter what.
Retired figure skater Topher Caldwell wants a job as a commentator for the American network that covers the Olympics, and at the Summer Olympics in Madrid, he has a chance to prove himself with a few live features. He can’t afford to stumble.
Olympic victories eluded Topher, so he knows about tripping when it really counts. When he interviews Jake, the two bond over the weight of all that pressure. The flamboyant reporter attracts the kind of attention Jake–stuck in a glass closet–doesn’t want, but Jake can’t stay away. Topher doesn’t want to jeopardize his potential new job, and fooling around with a high-profile athlete seems like a surefire way to do just that. Yet Topher can’t stay away either..
Dear Kate McMurray,
I read a lot of your books. Don’t get me wrong I liked most of them to one degree or another, but there was always something that stopped me from fully enjoying the book and I could not figure out what it was.
I could not resist this book about gymnastics so I tried again. Man, growing up in the Soviet Union of course I loved gymnastics – so much. Unfortunately now I don’t have time to watch even the European or World championships, forget about American competitions so I became one of those spectators who only watch gymnastics during the Olympics. And this book is about the Olympics which is normally so much fun for me! I am guessing that these games take place in a few years, but not too far in the future since the female elite gymnast in the book cites Simone Biles as her inspiration (and Simone Biles is not on the Olympic team anymore). That’s the only time stamp I could find in the book and I was grateful that it did not have too many.
I thought (based on what I know about gymnastics – I am no expert of any kind, just somebody who used to love watching the sport) that the author did her research in the technical side of the gymnastics and did it really well. What she showed of the practices, routines, the scoring systems made sense to me. Life of the elite gymnasts of the world, especially who grew up with the parents formerly active in Soviet gymnastics also rang true based on what I read about it. I appreciated that the author chose to show that Jake and Chelsea’s father is a very demanding, hard ass coach, but also someone who really loved them both, even if Jake may have previously doubted his father’s love.
I just adored Jake to be honest, he was such a sweetheart, who had the misfortune to lose on some very important international competitions while being one of the very best in the world based on the difficulties of his routines. And when the Olympic Games in the book come, Jake is 26, and he is thinking that those games may be the last for him, so of course he wants that gold medal. (read and find out if he did :)).
Chelsea was great too, but she is a supporting character, so she does not have that much page space and it made sense to me, too.
If this book was only about American teams competing at the Olympics, I would have had almost no issues with the story, but there was also a romance (and of course I wanted that romance!) and when Topher showed up on page, I started scratching my head. No, I would not have issues with him as a character – former figure skater, who is openly gay, who likes to express himself in his clothes and his hairdos now, after he could not do it that much while he was competing and he also kind of auditions to get a permanent sport commenting gig on TV. He wants to talk about figure skating of course, but for now the network makes him do all kind of fluff pieces at the Olympics about different stuff including gymnastics with a woman who was formerly a gymnast, too.
I am sorry but from the moment I saw Topher on page, I only called him Johny Weir and that was really annoying . I understand of course that most fictional characters have the features of real life people, so it makes sense that the writer would observe real people and create characters who have the qualities of one person (or preferably several people put together). I get it, but is it too much to ask that the fictional character did not scream so much to the reader – I am based on this real person?
I just don’t think it is too much to ask frankly. I think Johny Weir (his public persona I mean, I obviously not familiar with his private persona) is lovely and fun, but I felt even a bit uncomfortable picturing him in my head while I was reading.
Honestly, I feel like this was close but no cigar again and maybe it is just I did not feel the chemistry between the characters. I thought the writer actually told us very well why these two were interested in each other, I even thought it was quite clever how she made it convincing that they would made it through the Olympics (while Jake is preparing to get the medal which is so very important to him) and show signs of their attractions without making me feel that Jake forgot about the medal, I appreciated the creativity, but I just did not feel that they had romantic chemistry together, even if I did not see Johny Weir in Topher’s place. C+