From Publishers Weekly
Sey writes of her career in internationally competitive gymnastics, which culminated when she won the 1986 U.S. national championship at age 17. From the start Sey was an underdog, ever the second-best athlete on the team hoping to prove herself with tenacity and toughness. She endured numerous injuries—including a broken femur, which could have ended her career—as well as an eating disorder, depression, isolation and tremendous strain on her family. With each new sacrifice that her parents and brother made to support her, the stakes crept higher, inuring them all to gymnastics' inherent physical and psychological trauma. After claiming the U.S. title, Sey was shell-shocked and exhausted, suddenly robbed of her lifelong motivation. I'd always been a fighter, a come-from-behind girl. Now that I was on top, the battle would be unwinnable. The memoir's poignant glimpses at Sey's adult struggle to reckon with her past are regrettably sparse, and her prose occasionally lapses into wordiness, but overall, she has written a courageous story befitting a comeback kid—a timely release for the 2008 Olympics. (May)
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Sey was the 1986 U.S. national gymnastics champion, but since gymnastics is a sport that only captures the fancy of the general populace during Olympic years, she is relatively unknown outside the sport’s inner circle. Joan Ryan exposed many of female gymnastics’ abuses in her classic Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (1996), but Sey adds to that sad story (her lengthy subtitle conveys much of the substance of her years as an elite gymnast). She acknowledges that her obsessively competitive personality may have simply found a venue in which to flourish, but the demands placed upon her by club coaches and parents surely exacerbated the situation. Sey’s parents moved so she could train with the right coaches, then virtually ignored their younger son and nearly lost their marriage along the way. Through it all, Sey suffered an adolescence of eating disorders, endured numerous broken bones, and viewed every element of her life through the distorting prism of competition. It’s a fascinating and disturbing book and certainly the young year’s front-runner for most literate and painfully honest sports autobiography. --Wes Lukowsky