I am not, nor have I ever been a gymnast. I am not, nor have I ever been, a figure skater. BUT, I did partake in both sports for brief stints as a child. I was never great at either, I was mediocre (at best) at both. But, my older sister was a highly competitive gymnast, and I was dragged to more gymnastics meets than I can even count.
I loved every minute too. Even the minutes she was mocking me in front of her friends (it’s true – there is evidence on video).
This book is about the behind the scenes stuff you don’t hear about. The eating disorders, the competition, the drive to work out through debilitating injuries, the pressure to please your parents and your coach. And yes, the pressure to perform, at an age when most people are just learning algebra, in front of the WORLD. ALONE. Everyone will see you win, but they will also see you fail.
An older book, the people that are showcased are those that I remember watching on tv – the gymnasts – Kim Zmeskal, Kristie Phillips, Shannon Miller, Brandy Johnson, and Betty Okino. And the figure skaters – Kristie Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan, and Tonya Harding. It’s almost a trip down memory lane, were it not for the fact that I just kept thinking, “wow I had no idea that they were going through this while smiling to the world”.
I reviewed another similar book – Chalked Up – and this wasn’t terribly different, albeit just as interesting. Chalked Up is a memoir, this book is an account from an outsider about the perfect world we (I) didn’t know was so hard to create and even harder to maintain.