There’s no doubt that team sports take top billing in real life viewership, but when it comes to books, individual sports have equal footing. Some of the best characters and plots can be found in books about golfing, gymnastics, swimming and running.
Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas
Joey is an elite gymnast who wants to achieve gold at nationals. The challenge is the amount of time that must be devoted to the sport. There’s no time for boys. Joey is doing fine with that until her old friend, Tanner, moves back to town. Even as she warns her friend, Alex, to stop dating, her own feelings for Tanner are growing. She must make a choice.
Vanishing Act: Mystery at the U.S. Open by John Feinstein
Stevie and Susan Carol are back with media access to the U.S. Tennis Open. When a highly ranked female player vanishes between the locker room and the court, Stevie and Susan Carol begin their secret investigation while the public gets caught up in the media hype. As usual, all evidence points to scandal.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, doesn’t have much to be proud of, but he does have one thing. He can run. Just to prove it, he walks onto the track during practice and lines up to race their best runner. The coach is impressed and invites him to join the team. Ghost has another problem. He can’t afford new track shoes. In a moment of bad judgement, he steals a pair of shoes.
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson
Caylin is a bully with a lisp, who steals and has no friends. Reema is a Syrian refugee who can barely speak English. Initially, she and Caylin get off on the wrong foot, but a shared interest in saving a family of foxes and a talent for running, bring them together.
Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics by John Feinstein
Kid reporters Susan Carol and Stevie are at the London Olympics. Attractive and outgoing Susan Carol is competing in the women’s Butterfly events. The big-name apparel companies have their eyes on her. But when the plain-looking American wins the Gold in the 100m, the company reps become desperate to ensure Susan Carol wins Gold in the 200m.
Up For Air By Laurie Morrison
Annabelle is an excellent swimmer, but struggles with school. When the swim coach offers her a spot on the high school team, her mother consents if she continues her tutoring. At first she likes hanging out with the high school gang, especially her crush, Connor, but she eventually learns she is in over her head when they engage in risky behaviors. Grade 7 and up.
Deep Water by Watt Key
Since her parent’s divorce, Julie has returned to Gulf Shores, Alabama every summer to help her dad run his diving business. Their first clients of the season are a father/son pair who like to do things their own way. Since Julie’s dad isn’t feeling well, he puts Julie in charge of the dive. From the start, things go wrong. When they surface, the boat is nowhere to be seen. They are alone, fighting to survive, in open water.
Million Dollar Putt by Dan Gutman
Bogie is a blind kid with mega determination. He can do most of the things sighted people can do. Birdie, on the other hand, doesn’t even know how to ride a bike. It’s not surprising when Bogie realizes he can even hit a golf ball. When he enters the million-dollar putting contest, Birdie decides she is going to learn everything she can about golf and be his coach. Classic Gutman humor.
In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart
Miles’ grandpop owns a bowling alley. Amy’s uncle owns a funeral home. Miles recently lost his grandmother. Amy lost her mother. Their lives cross when Miles bowling shoe hits her in the head on the first day of school. Then she stumbles on the bowling alley one day while trying to escape yet another funeral. Coincidence or fate?