________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 10. . . .November 9, 2012


Vegas Tryout. (Podium Sports Academy).

Lorna Schultz Nicholson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2012.
140 pp., pbk., hc. & Ebook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $7.95 (Ebook).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0070-2 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-4594-0071-9 (hc.),
ISBN 978-1-4594-0072-6 (Ebook).

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Nicole Dalmer.

** /4



When we were seated in the restaurant, I immediately opened my menu. I read it closely, trying to see if there was something that didn't have too many calories. The pressure of reading the menu gave me a pounding headache. The waiter brought a basket of bread and butter, and my mom picked it up and passed it to Aaron first. I watched as the basket went around the table, and when it got to me, I took a whole wheat roll and put it on my side plate.

"What are you having?" I rubbed my shoulder up against Aaron's. "Baked lasagna.”
"I think I'll do salad." When my salad came, I was glad we were eating Italian because the only dressing choice was vinegar and oil.


Carrie Munroe is an elite synchronized swimmer, training with other teen students at the Podium Sports Academy, a high school for top athletes training for a future in pro sports. After individual weigh-ins are conducted in front of all of her teammates, Carrie is made well-aware that she is the shortest and now largest swimmer in her group. As auditions for a large synchronized swimming production in Las Vegas loom closer, Carrie's coach encourages her to lose at least ten pounds by the next weigh-in. Given the hypercompetitive environment of the school and Carrie's strong desire to perform in Las Vegas, she takes her coach's instructions to heart and begins vigilantly documenting her restrictive diet. Seemingly harmless meal-size reductions eventually lead to skipped meals, causing Carrie to lie to her friends, her boyfriend and her billet family about how much she is eating. As her weight begins to drop, temporary feelings of success and control begin to erode as Carrie becomes increasingly withdrawn from her friends and family, consequently compromising her athletic performance and abilities. How far is she willing to go to get to Las Vegas?

     The second book in Schultz Nicholson's "Podium Sports Academy": series, Vegas Tryout successfully conveys the high stakes in competitive sports and the diligence and determination of those teens enrolled in this program. The author has been surrounded by sports her entire life, both in education, work and recreation, and she is now married to Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson. Her dedication to sports and sports performance is evident throughout the read, whether through the detail of the synchronized swimming movements and formations or through the explanations of the rigorous training routines, both in and out of pool, that Carrie and her teammates must follow.

      The meticulous documentation of food portions and calories eaten, as well as the record of weight lost or gained, often displayed at the beginning of each chapter, allows the reader a glimpse into Carrie's increasingly frenzied state of mind. This is heightened by Schultz Nicholson's clever use of first person narrative. Despite the dire situation and the character's emotional, mental and physical unravelling, the sometimes clichéd situations, melodramatic dialogue and rather abrupt ending took away from character development and the reader's emotional attachment to the characters. While the setting (Podium Sports Academy) and the main character's occupation (elite synchronized swimmer) were rather notable, the eating disorder plotline lacked any unique departure from similar storylines.

      While the level of detail used to describe the sport of synchronized swimming was fascinating and lent considerable believability to the story, the sometimes uninventive plotline of Carrie's eating disorder kept Vegas Tryout from truly excelling.

Recommended with reservations.

Nicole Dalmer is a recent graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies program and is now a Public Service Librarian at the Herbert T. Coutts Education and Physical Education Library at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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