Author Beth Pond Beth Pond graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Hendrix College in 2012. In 2013, she taught in South Africa for 9 months as part of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant. Pond is currently completing her coursework at the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA program. Her debut novel, Podium Finish, was released from Astraea Press in November 2013. When she’s not writing, Pond enjoys martial arts (she’s a black belt) and serving as a volunteer coach for her brother’s special needs baseball team.
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EXCERPTS (Excerpt One) Harper
Alex is waiting for me at our usual table in the cafeteria. She rakes her fingers through her not-quite-shoulder-length blonde hair and pulls it back into a ponytail. The front strands fall loose as soon as she leans forward to eat a bite of salad. I would never be brave enough to pull off short hair like that, but Alex does it well. She pulls a bobby pin from her bag and twists her bangs back. Bobby pins. That and lip gloss are two things Alex never leaves the dorm without. “Hey, do anything exciting today?” I ask. “I defied gravity.” “Wearing a push-up bra is not defying gravity.” “I was talking about the new dance hold we’re learning, but my new bra is amazing, isn’t it?” She’s sitting with perfect posture and waves her hand in front of her chest like one of the models revealing a prize on a TV game show. Alex dragged me to the mall last weekend, and if I never have to see her buy bras and make-up again, it will be too soon. That trip was like a quadruple dose of Alex’s usual girliness. “It’s great. You sure you’re not too top heavy for Ace to pick up now?” “Just because you can get away with the uniboob sports bra look doesn’t mean I have to,” Alex says, and I shoot her a look. “What? You totally pull it off.” A shadow hovers over our table. “Excuse me, are you using that chair?” The guy gives us a tiny, apologetic smile and squeezes his tray tighter until the creases in his knuckles go white. Great, whoever he is, this guy probably just heard her say uniboob. “No,” Alex says. “Do you want to sit with us?” “I think he just wants—” “Sure,” he says. “I’m Rye.” “I’m Alex, and that’s my roommate, Harper. So what sport do you play?” “Short track speed skating. What about you?” I assume he’s talking to Alex—guys always talk to Alex—so I take another drink of water. Silence. I look up and meet his gaze. He was asking me.
My Review: *****--5 Stars.
I'm not a big sports fanatic. I watch a little here and there, especially if my kids are playing, but one thing that I absolutely love and spend hours and hours and hours watching, is the Olympics. I get into all of the sports and come to know the athletes. I watch sports that I would never watch otherwise, but this big event is heaven. Podium Finish was so much fun because not only did it tell one athletes road to the Olympics, but two.
Harper and Alex are roommates at the Olympic Training Center and they're also best friends. They understand the dedication, sacrifice, and commitment it takes to succeed. I love watching them support one another. Each chapter goes back and forth between the two 17 year old girls and it's told in first person, so we can really understand their feelings and thoughts. I was completely caught up in their stories and felt this was the perfect time to read it--just a few weeks before the Winter Olympics! I'm so excited!
I loved the emotion and learning experiences these girls faced. I loved the relationships they had to figure out and deal with--teams, families, friends, enemies, etc. I even found myself shedding a few tears, although they were tears of joy and pride, I promise. The growth that occurred was perfect for their ages and experiences.
Content: there were a few mild kissing scenes and thoughts of taking things further, but making a choice not to; there was one situation of a boy and girl in the same bed, but clothed and nothing happened. Clean.