Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review of "Learning to Fly"

Not everyone who reads this post may necessarily agree with my opinion that competitive cheerleading is a sport, but since I do think it is I decided to respond to a request by the author to have this book reviewed.  Since the participants are in shape, have to train and practice before performing and the performances require much of the same skills, strength and agility as athletes need in other sports, I believe this is a sport in the same class as figure skating or gymnastics.  It was a pleasure to learn more about competitive cheerleading.  Here is my review of "Learning to Fly."

“Learning to Fly” by Dana Burkey

Cheerleading, young adult, fiction

Publish date:
May 10, 2016

318 pages

4 ½ of 5 stars (excellent)

When one hears the world “cheerleading”, one of two images will come to mind. It will either be the young girls in skirts with huge pom-poms in their hands standing and jumping on the sidelines to cheer the school’s football team to victory.  The other image that may come to mind is a team performing well-orchestrated dances, tumbles, human pyramids and other similar stunts before judges in a competitive setting.

The latter of the two is the setting for this story of a 12 year old tomboy girl who discovers she has a talent for this type of sport and also more about herself. Max usually hangs out with and plays with boys, but when she decides to try some tumbling on a trampoline at a park, it leads her to entirely different world full of glitter, tights, dance and other “girly” things that she doesn’t like.

The story is geared toward “tweens” about the same age as Max with age-appropriate material and language. The dialogue is realistic for the girls who are practicing in the TNT Force gym. The acronym is for the first initial of the three adults who coach the girls.  The descriptions of the moves and the sport of cheerleading is excellent as a reader of any age will learn more about the sport and what types of practice and training these young people do in order to perform such a show for the judges and the spectators.

What also makes the story a good one for readers about the same age as Max is that she is constantly feeling conflicted. She hates all the glitter, tight shorts and makeup, yet she knows she is good at the dances, tumbling and flips. She feels out of place and feels the entire gamut of emotions while at the gym from isolation to elation.  She looks to adults, including the coaches and her father, for guidance.  All of these concepts and more make this a very good book for readers in grades 4-8.  It is the first book of a series that will follow Max as she works her way through the ranks. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I wish to thank Ms. Burkey for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Format Read:
E-Book (EPUB)

Buying links:


1 comment:

  1. Excellent review, Lance. I'm like you and think of cheerleading as a sport. They have so much training to do and it beautiful to watch. And the competition to be best can be some of the toughest out there. I'll definitely have to read this one.