‘WINNING BALANCE,’ BY SHAWN JOHNSON. Review of the 2013 autobiography by the Olympic gymnast and DWTS winner. All text © Rissi JC

There probably aren’t many of us who have don’t know of the pint-sized, heart and gold-medal-winning gymnast from the 2008 Olympic Games. If her name is not familiar from the sport she excels in, then you probably “met” her on the eighth season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (which she also did win). 

Her book, Winning Balance, is a journal of sorts. A book she writes for her fans about her life so far. About her maturity and her faith; the lessons life has taught her and getting back to the place where she is happier and healthy. It’s rare that I read books in which there’s a celebrity name. My reader preference is fiction but I don’t regret having read this book. I’d wager anyone who reads this will learn a lot of things about Shawn. Some that may even surprise you.

Perhaps the most insightful parts of this book is Shawn’s profession of her faith. Within these pages, she shares about how she challenges her faith in an honest way that makes the reader believe she has a daily walk with Him. Despite this, I did find this a really hard read to get “into.” The style is easy reading, but I did have to push myself to read more than a chapter or two at a time. Perhaps the first 70 pages are such a challenge because of its focus is in gymnasts’ terms. Given that, I’m surprised that the last third of the novel goes by so quickly, and I read most of it in an afternoon.

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To be honest if this weren’t an offer from Tyndale (thanks!), I am not sure I’d have read this in the foreseeable future. It’s a joy to read, and to feel a renewed sense of excitement at the prospect to again root for Shawn at the upcoming summer Olympics. (Unfortunately, the day after I finished reading this, Shawn made the announcement she wouldn’t compete at the London Games; her knee injury won’t allow it.) 

In Winning Balance, Shawn shares everything from her struggles to maintain a healthy image, what it’s like to be in Hollywood with DWTS (a section I did enjoy, of course), the emotional support of her prince charming (a college football athlete), trials of the travel her engagements demand; and through it all, that’s a country girl at heart. Anyone who followed her career, or likes a good read will find this book worth their time. Its ‘winning’ story makes it one fabulous read.

About the Book:

Author: Shawn Johnson
Publisher: Tyndale
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Autobiography, General
Add the Book: Goodreads

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book; all opinions are my own.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. So happy to see your review! :) And the fact that you put a picture of Ryan in there…I had totally wanted to see him after finishing the book! That is sad…I was totally excited to hear that she was going to try, but it is good that she doesn't push herself… I really liked this book and how it brought you closer to who she is as a person. And she is such a sweetie :) And I may or may not be totally jealous of her poetry skills… :/ Have a great day! Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!) Philippians 4:8

  2. Katrina – it is definitely worth reading IMO. Enjoy!

    I actually do follow your blog – it is great fun! Thanks for stopping by and the invitation! :-)

    Brooke – oh, really? That is so cool. I did tumbling when I was little and really enjoyed it (or so I am told! LOL!) but because it was like, an hour away, my mom couldn't keep taking us. You'd really enjoy this book then, Brooke – it is sweet! So glad you stopped in.

    Sierra – yeah! I kind of panicked when I realized that I needed to have this read by the 5th or thereabouts. LOL! Fortunately, the latter part of the book went really fast and I was able to read it quickly. All's well that ends well.

    I thought the book was very insightful into her as a person and yes, I loved that too – she is a sweetie. You feel like she'd be just like that in person.

    The photo: I thought it was funny she didn't have a pic of Ryan in her book, so yeah, I liked the idea of adding one – they are cute together, right!? It is sad that we won't be able to root for Shawn this summer but good for her in realizing her limits. Nothing will ever change that she is a gold-medalist.

    Oh, that is right! I forgot you write poetry – they were lovely, weren't they!? Keep it up!

    SO glad you stopped in!

  3. Hi, Rissi! This sounds like an interesting book. Gymnasts have to have a lot of determination and courage.

    I agree that church attendance is not required for salvation, but it is dangerous to live isolated from fellow believers. I wish we had more home churches. These mega-churches that are becoming the thing to go to — so impersonal, and nobody knows each other.

  4. I just might have to get this book! I loved Shawn in the Olympics and I am curious about her life and career. =) Thanks for cluing us in, Rissi!

  5. Gwendolyn – it was a really fun, great read. I'd imagine it will give inspiration to many a future Olympic gymnast. Shawn seems like a sweet role model.

    You are right in saying that – church is important. I just don't feel that someone cannot enjoy a relationship with Christ if they don't have that. It is important though because it is easy to develop a pattern that is "comfortable" and we are then not held responsible. I agree with you about all these mega-churches. Mine is a small congregation and in a small town, which I really like.

    AnnaKate – I think you'd enjoy this one! It is a nice, easy read. If you followed her, then you should definitely read this one! :-)

    TJ – isn't she though!? I was sorry to read she wouldn't be back for 2012 but I am glad she decided against it if it puts her health in danger – that is more important. The book is really sweet; I'd probably not have noticed she wrote a book had I not been given opportunity to review it – or not for a while anyway! LOL!

    Juju – anyone who knew of Shawn should enjoy this one. I thought it was a darling read that really spoke of her growth. Definitely worth checking out! :-)

  6. I requested that work by this book. It looks like a fun read. I enjoyed watching her in the Olympics last go around….and was sad to learn that she won't be in London this year =(

  7. Hope you enjoy this one, Ella – I did! Will look forward to what you thought of it. :-)

    I know… her retirement was so sad – and ironic to read about. I wish her the best though and am glad she is considering her health over another medal. No matter what, she is a gold medalist!

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