Grace, Gold, and Glory

Oh boy...where do I begin? It's hard to be objective as a gymnastics writer who worked closely with these athletes over the last quad and who was there for a lot of what's being written about here by someone who has clearly never seen a competition. I went in with very low expectations, knowing that there was a push to get this book out before the holidays. Its biggest problem is that it reads like a wikipedia entry, embellished by an overuse of "teen slang" (it's like if a Chinese farmer in 871 Oh boy...where do I begin? It's hard to be objective as a gymnastics writer who worked closely with these athletes over the last quad and who was there for a lot of what's being written about here by someone who has clearly never seen a competition. I went in with very low expectations, knowing that there was a push to get this book out before the holidays. Its biggest problem is that it reads like a wikipedia entry, embellished by an overuse of "teen slang" (it's like if a Chinese farmer in 871 BC is trying to talk like a 2012 16-year-old) and IM abbreviations and peppered with little anecdotes that have nothing to do with the subject matter. But this is the least of its problems. You can tell what the author is quoting from Gabby and what she's trying to say on her own as Gabby...i.e. at one point the author asks rhetorically "do you know what it feels like to master a roundoff double back on beam?" Nationals (as in 2009 Visa Nationals) are referred to as Junior Olympic Nationals (part of the J.O. system, NOT the elite system). Chow is quoted as calling the pit the "foam squishy pit" at one point. I've heard Chow say many funny things but I'm betting that was never one of them. So there are lots of technicalities related to the sport itself that are annoying if you know even the least bit about the sport. Reading the TOPs/JO/elite explanations were painful and it's easy to find inconsistencies throughout...i.e. at one point the author says you can't skip levels in JO, but then goes on to say "I went from level 4 right to level 7!" without any explanation as to how that's possible. Technicalities aside, the book just isn't well-written at all. It's like no one even tried to edit because the syntax is horrendous (a direct quote: "A fractured wrist. An ill mother. A funnel cake in the bottom of the trash can. Where could I go from there?”), there are multiple typos (little things like "has" instead of "as" but if I could catch it while speed reading this thing, why didn't the editors?), and just really unfortunate sentences in general (another quote: "I love Martin

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Luther King, Jr…and not just because he was black, lol!"). Then it seems all of Gabby's career from 2012 was literally just lifted from Wikipedia with little factoids from existing articles thrown in, so if you followed the sport at all in the past year, you know all of it. The best thing about even the crappiest athlete autobiographies are the fun behind-the-scenes stories during the biggest tests and trials of their careers, but there's none of that here. It's like "first we went to American Cup and I technically won, then we went to Pac Rims and I made a vault mistake, and then we went to Classics and I didn't vault because of a preexisting injury, and then we went to Nationals where I almost won but fell on beam, and then we went to Trials where I won, and then we went to the Olympics and here are all of the scores we got in Team Finals, and here are all of the scores I got in AA." Seriously terrible. Especially because I was at Classics, sitting about three feet from vault, where I saw Gabby crash multiple times while attempting her Amanar in public for the first time since the disaster at Pac Rims. She was billed to compete in the all around and after sitting at least six Amanars in podium training, she pulled out of vault and therefore the AA the night before the competition, which was a major "omg, what's going on, will Gabby's inconsistencies ruin her chances for the team!?!?" in the press leading up to the Olympics. So why does the book just mention "I was injured so didn't compete vault at Classics" and not say anything else about it? I would think that narrative of failing so close to the Games works 100% better than just saying "a lingering injury is the reason I couldn't physically vault." Because she was most definitely physically vaulting. There's just so much of this crap with one thing happened, yet another thing is being said in the book, so it would have been nice if the author had done even the least bit of research. Yeah, yeah, time was tight, I get that. But really, these are events that occurred six months ago. It's not like you're delving into some rare manuscript archive and translating 15th century German. Watch a video on youtube. Read just a single article that mentions the event. Or maybe talk to the athlete you're channeling for the book you're writing? Because clearly the last 40 pages or so are nothing but Wikipedia and bullshit, which is sad, because Gabby's had a fascinating career and an incredible ride between Worlds and the Olympics, yet you get really none of that story in this book about her life. Shame! Don't bother reading....more


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