What have Donegal, the Tunnel Tigers, Chinese twins, a nurse, the Vietnam War, the Montreal Olympics and a coming of age tale got in common? They are just some of the ingredients that make up an exciting debut novel from Seamus McCrudden. Donegal Gymnasts is a multi-layered story that has a bit of everything – comedy, drama, romance, joy and sorrow as it charts journeys from innocence to experience.
Jack and Jake are twin brothers of Chinese and Irish extraction, growing up in Donegal in the 1960’s with their adoptive parents. Early on, they demonstrate a natural aptitude for gymnastics, setting them apart from their peers, making them stand out. Their ‘twin talents’ are fostered and encouraged by family, friends, teachers and those close to them.
As they mature, the road ahead appears to offer prospects of fame and fortune. Their paths diverge and their lives take different turns when one heads off for England, to pursue a gymnastics career, while the other enlists in the US Army, serving a term in Vietnam. When they meet up again at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, they are competing against each other and representing their adopted countries. They have been through much but growing up under the spotlight teaches them that the bonds of family and friendship are what endure, keeping them close, reminding them of who they are.
Donegal Gymnasts is a tale about people who follow their dreams and determine to conquer whatever obstacles life throws in their way. It is an exploration of love and loyalty with a narrative and storytelling style that is simple but well plotted. As the story unfolds, it peels back many layers, revealing those complexities associated with lives that are intermingled with love, loss, tragedy and triumph.
"A wonderful story that captures every possible emotion of Irish life, told in a unique fashion."