The book: “Winning Balance: What I’ve Learned so far about Love, Faith and Living Your Dreams”
The author: Shawn Johnson with Nancy French
The publishing info: Tyndale House, $19.99, 254 pages
The background: From the publishing house that gave us Tony Dungy’s “Quiet Strength,” “Uncommon” and “The Mentor Leader,” and other athlete-motivation books comes this one from the 2008 silver medal gymnast.
“Over the past five years, many articles have been written about me,” she says in the intro. “Most journalists have gotten the details right, though only a few seem to have truly captured something about who I am as a person, not simply as a gymnast. That’s understandable, since most reporters have been assigned to cover a specific event or to give readers a status report on my training.
“I wrote ‘Winning Balance’ as a way to go deeper. … It is not an autobiography. Instead, I wrote this book as a way to reflect on the lesions I’ve learned during nearly two decades of training, competition and most important, every day life.”
Then there’s Chapter 15 entitled “Do Not Make Bob Costas Angry,” although that’s never really explained if someone told her that, or she had thought in her head as the NBC anchor interviewed her after the team won the silver medal.
” ‘How did your parents react when you first saw them after winning the medal?’ (Costas) asked after noticing the other gymnasts with their parents.
“‘I actually haven’t had a chance to see them,’ I replied, hiding the pain under my cheerful-sounding answer.
“I though I saw a flash of anger in his eyes though we were on camera. Here I was, this young girl going through the most spiritually taxing moment in my life, and the organizers hadn’t even bothered to help me find my mom and dad.
“During a commercial break, he took me aside. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said very kindly. ‘I’ll help you find your parents.’ … It was one of the most compassionate things anyone has ever done for me. And I’ll never forget Costas’s kindness.” (page 110).