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Pretty Good for a Girl Hardcover – September 14, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1St Edition edition (September 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684850702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684850702
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,155,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Leslie Heywood wants to be seen for who she is--by her family, by her coach, and by the boys in her new high school. Of the latter she writes, "They don't see me. They see some blank girl instead, some chick." A talented runner, Heywood quickly finds in the high-school cross-country team a sense of purpose, and eventually some authentic friendships among the group of guys, "long, gangly misfits" who run with her. But that's not enough--this girl is itching for greatness. Faced with family troubles and the pre-Title IX sexism of high school athletics, her drive to conquer her sport grows ferocious. She tears up the mountains in her Arizona town (in 110-degree heat, no less), she piles weights on in the gym "like they were dimes," and, finally, afraid of not being quite fast enough or fat-free enough, she stops eating.

The painful consequences of Heywood's relentless drive toward physical perfection are at the center of this heartfelt memoir. But the moments of exhilaration and strength that running brings to Heywood suggest what women--given the right support--have to gain from participation in athletics. Regardless of her missteps, the author, now a professor and bodybuilder, remembers the boon sport brought to her shaky teenage sense of self. "Running was the way I first carved myself into the world," she writes, "how I learned to claim a space, throw my shoulders back, and fly." --Maria Dolan

From Booklist

Just in time for the upsurge in "girl power" books comes this insightful yet disturbing sports memoir of a former Arizona high-school track and cross-country star who soars to first place in races but spirals downward in her battle to win acceptance among her male peers, and to avoid eating disorders and exercise compulsion, to overcome an unhappy home life (an alcoholic father) and a destructive, sexual relationship with an unethical coach. In coach Jeanie Zumwalt, she finds a mentor who is "someone I can reason with, discuss a game plan, as though I have a level head." Limited details about Heywood's home life leave the impression that there is a piece of this puzzle missing. Nevertheless, this is a well-written account of the pressures teenage athletes face that can lead to self-abuse and destruction. Having traded her spikes for bodybuilding, Heywood concludes with the hope that her book will give other girls the "support I didn't have" so that they can avoid "the same mistakes." Recommended for all involved in sports. Brenda Barrera

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The entire time I read this book, I felt as if I had been punched in the solar plexus. This book is so visceral, so raw, reading it feels like gawking at a car wreck. The way that she captures the phenomenon of a body at war with itself, its drive to destroy the self it is simultaneously trying to build up, captures, I think, so many young women's experiences, regardless of whether they are athletes. The prose in this book shifts back and forth between an anguished scream and a gentle whisper. It is captivating; I found myself unable to stop reading, even though some of the content upset me so much I wanted to stop.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am a 17 year old girl and a distance runner on my high school track team. I found Leslie Heywood's book to be an abosutley incredible memoir that touches the soul. There are so few people in this world with the drive, determination and dedication to make themselves the absolute best they can be. It is obvious that Heywood has the true heart of a champion, that not only made it in the world of athletics but struggled and conquered things like sexual harrassment, (and just harassment in general), bulemia, the tourturous colligate track life, and made it through all of it to write an extremly powerful and well written novel. She is a role model to the girl athletes who strive to do what she did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eric on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was one of those "misfit boys" Leslie ran with in Tucson....luckily for me I was one of the few that could run faster than her....but just by a little bit. Oh how I admired her then. How many athletes, male or female, can triple at the State meet in the ˝, Mile, and 2 Mile....and win? No, Leslie was one of those athletes others watched in awe and wonder. I picked up the book one evening, and did not stop reading until the next morning just before time to go to work. Thanks Leslie for preserving in print some of the most memorable times of my life. Great book, I've given it to my daughter who also went on to run at the collegiate level. As your younger sister said to me once, "Running taught me that I can do `just one more' of anything worthwhile, yet painful to accomplish, in life." Concur. Eric
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I suggest every father or mother who has a young girl interested in sports read this book. It is apparent everyone can take something away from Leslie's mistakes and triumphs. She has written a clear,captivating and disturbing memior. It is truly an eye opener and a page turner. Leslie, "Keep on Rocking in a Free World."
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Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put it down. I literally read it cover to cover in less than a day. It was an honest look into her life that was absoltely brilliant. It's the best book I've read in a long time.
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