This book review is part of series of reviews written by students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their 7th grade English classes.
Have you ever had a dream you worked your whole life to achieve? John Feinstein, a fictional sports author, captures an amazing story of a small town swimmer who dreams of someday competing for Olympic gold. John has written over six other sports books, one of them being the New York Times best seller, The Last Shot. In Rush For The Gold, he tells the story of a girl named Susan Carol Anderson and how her life changed dramatically because of just one swim meet. I strongly recommend this book for any type of athlete looking for an inspirational story, as well as a compelling and captivating read. Athletes will love the competitive nature of the story line, and every reader will love the fast pace that keeps you guessing from beginning to end.
The story starts out with Susan Carol having a flashback to the World Championships in Shanghai nine months beforehand when she beat the world record holder, Liu Zige, from China by two hundredths of a second in the final round. From that point on, Susan Carol stunned the world. That win guaranteed her a spot in the Olympic trials and laid out an amazing financial future for her and her family. “She had gone to China hoping to swim the meet of her life. She never dreamed that succeeding would completely change her life (pg. 2).” This just goes to show that even good things lead to different sorts of change; some good and some difficult.
“It had been at a Grand Prix meet in Charlotte [North Carolina] that she [Susan Carol Anderson referred to as Susan Carol] had gone from being a solid age-group swimmer to a national contender (pg. 5).” After that meet, her life would never be the same. From people at school treating her like a star, press meetings in her free time, to agents coming to her house pleading for her to become their client. Susan Carol faced all the changes that come with a small town girl becoming an international celebrity. A major theme projected throughout this novel is change – being able to accept change and adapt to change, both big and small, good and bad. Although it might seem simple, there are many different types of change. In Susan Carol’s case, accepting and adapting to all the changes in her life is no easy task. Part of her being able to adjust was having the support and loyalty of her boyfriend, Stevie.
After making the Olympic team, Susan Carol swims for her life in both the 100 meter and 200 meter butterfly. She can handle pressure well, but will it be different this time with millions of people watching? From here, you will have to read the book to experience all of the twists and turns of her shocking Olympic journey. Does all of her hard work and extreme training finally pay off? Do her Olympic dreams come true?
-Evan T., 7th grade