The Bottom Line:Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers is a very entertaining figure skating novel. Not only is the plot fun, but the story will appeal to figure skaters, ice skating fans, and also to people who don't know a thing about figure skating.
The skating mothers described in the book are real terrors, the kids are nice, and the book is definitely a "page turner."
- Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers is fun and easy to read.
- Much of the author's knowledge of the figure skating world is accurate.
- Skaters and non-skaters will find the story entertaining.
- Some readers may want to learn more about the ice skating world after reading this book.
- Some of the situations described in Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers are not suitable for children or teens.
- A few of the author's thoughts on figure skating may offend people that are really part of the figure skating world.
- The plot is not completely realistic.
- Asians are stereotyped in this book.
- 306 pages
- The author is Andy Schell, a figure skater who has won medals at the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships.
- Published by Schell Books on March 22, 2012
- Available in paperback and also in digital formats for Kindle and Nook readers.
- Also available for download to PC, iPod, iPad, and iPhone.
Guide Review - Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers: A Figure Skating NovelFlying Camels and Tiger Mothers is the story of two "ice moms" who will do anything to see their daughters win gold.
Norma Gardner named her daughter after Tonya Harding (who is a real figure skater who brought figure skating into the limelight when it was alleged that Tonya Harding might have been part of the conspiracy to hurt Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan).
In this book, Norma's daughter, Tonya Gardner, is truly a great skater who can land a triple Axel just like "the other Tonya." Unlike "The Other Tonya" (abbreviated TOT in this novel), Tonya Gardner is really a very sweet and innocent girl who calls her mother "Mommy" and just loves to skate.
Norma is aware of her daughter's talent and uses terms like MOTH (Mothers of the Hopeless) when she refers to other skating mothers. Also, she is not quite from the "other side of the tracks," but the Gardner family is struggling to get by financially. Norma Gardner is a widow who is employed full-time as a housekeeper for Betsy and Marv Cohen, members of Berkeley Iceland's adult Coffee Club. She also bakes to help pay the bills and to keep Tonya on the ice. Norma worries about putting food on the table for her children and keeping a roof over their heads.
Norma hopes that her daughter will win the US National Figure Skating Championships and also the Olympics, but also hopes her daughter's wins will bring financial rewards to the entire Gardner family.
Ming Chen is a very wealthy Chinese woman (with a past) who will do anything she can so that her daughter, Mei, will win. She makes Mei practice her competition music on the piano for hours and hours every day, she hires the best Russian coach possible for Mei, and also educates Mei with a private tutor. Ming is willing to use all the financial means she has to see Mei get to the top. She does not allow her daughter to do anything except concentrate on skating.
Norma and Min meet one another at the Berkeley Iceland rink when Mei is forced to change training facilities because of her mother's bad behavior at another ice arena. The two mothers at first try to be civil to one another, but it is obvious the two women will never get along.
Several "entertaining incidents" occur in the book. For example, Min pushes Norma into the Cohen's swimming pool, Min damages Tonya's skates, and Norma vandalizes Min's home and accidentally kills the Chen's dog.
Their daughters are sweet and innocent girls that just want to please their mothers. The girls want to be friends and they also want to be great skaters. Both girls also realize that they do both have mothers that have not allowed either one of them to have a life outside of figure skating. Both girls also love their mothers, but also are aware that their mothers are capable of ruining their lives and skating careers.
The end of the book takes an interesting twist when Tonya and Mei decide to rebel against their mothers.
Some of the things the author, Andy Schell, describes in the novel are not quite accurate. For example, after Norma fires Tonya's coach, she tries to get a coach credential so she can coach Tonya herself at the US National Figure Skating Championships. A parent who is not a qualified figure skating coach cannot teach his or her own child at a figure skating competition since US Figure Skating's coaches are required to register and complete CER continuing education requirements in order to obtain coaching credentials.
Although there are probably no ice skating parents like Norma Gardner or Ming Chen in the real life, this book does poke fun at what the actual figure skating world feels like from the inside. Competitive figure skating can "take over" to the point that irrational behavior can seem normal.
The author does a great job of making the figure skating world seem like a very entertaining place. Flying Camels and Tiger Mothers is a fun book and should be read by anyone who wants to be amused by crazy "skating mothers."