4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · memoir · non fiction · Sports

Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic #Gymnastics Culture by Rachel Haines | ARC #BookReview

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Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture by Rachel Haines

Published: April 12, 2019

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 

Pages: 144 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, sports

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: gymnastics, women speaking out, learning more about the culture of abuse, strong women 

Foodie Vibes: oooh, that’s a tough one when it comes to gymnastics – ideally it should be a healthy mix of lean protein, complex carbs and lots of vegetables, but in reality it’s probably a lot of disordered eating 

 

Synopsis:

Two-year-old Rachel Haines didn’t know that she would be committing to twenty-one years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance as she jumped into the foam pit during her first “mommy and me” gymnastics class. She had no idea that one day she would become a two-time National Team Member, two-time National Champion, and a Division I college gymnast at the University of Minnesota. Nor could she have known that she had just signed herself up for serious injury, emotional distress, and continuous sexual assault by world-renowned trainer turned serial molester, Larry Nassar.

In Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture, Rachel details her experiences as a competitive gymnast and the painful realities of being one of Nassar’s many victims. With honesty and candidness, Rachel shares how the sport she loved that gave her so much—friendships, accomplishments, a college education—is also tangled in a dangerously toxic culture that needs to be fixed. In a world that was setting her up for a lifetime of recovery, she tells how faith, family, and an army of survivors made healing possible.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, and Rachel Haines for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • She was able to speak her truth and current perspective of John Geddert. She enjoyed having him as a coach. Many other people have spoken out against his abusive coaching techniques, which I absolutely believe. But the problems of the sport of gymnastics are not one sided, so its good that everyone can tell their story. 
  • Hearing her perspective of the story (her’s only), not just what we were getting from the media
  • I can see this being the first of many books written, by different authors, about the same subject. Finally the world is getting a more complete view of gymnastics – the good and the bad.

Love: 

  • She’s using her voice to tell her story and speak out against the abuse and toxic culture of the sport.
  • Discusses the abuse without being unnecessarily overly graphic, IMO
  • Discusses the abusive culture of gymnastics as a whole, because it’s not just one person’s bad actions 

Dislike:

  • The culture of abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) that’s been allowed throughout the sport of gymnastics, because of the people in charge not putting athlete safety and well being first 

Wish that:

  • It was a bit longer. The content is great and the perfect length, but I would have liked to hear more about the sport as a whole and the culture of abuse across multiple gyms. Maybe that’s for another book and I would absolutely read that too.

Overall, a very necessary book about the current culture within the sport of gymnastics. A great read about a difficult topic. I think everyone needs to read Rachel’s story, especially anyone currently or ever involved in the sport. 

 

How many of you did gymnastics as a kid?

 

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Seriously Underrated Books – less than 500 Ratings

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Even more underrated book recommendations for you all!

 

This time it’s books that only have 100-500 ratings on Goodreads.

 

Why did I use Goodreads and these arbitrary numbers? See my original post here

 

Now onto my recommendations . . . 

 

The Heart Healers: The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives by James S. Forrester

Fascinating, amazing, and great for all you medical nerds out there. Essentially a book about cardiovascular surgery, it’s history, and innovations in medicine. Complex and smart, but well explained for people not well versed in medicine. 

 

The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History by Brian M. Fagan

A new way of looking at how animals affect human history beyond their adorableness as household pets. A fascinating combination of world history, animal science and anthropology. 

 

The Stress Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity by Melanie Greenberg

An incredibly fascinating and informative look at how and why our brain automatically reacts to certain situations with stress and anxiety. Filled with great checklists to help us take charge of our stress and anxieties.

 

A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America’s First Indian Doctor by Joe Starita

Exactly what the title describes and so much more! An intelligent, inspiring true life story of a hardworking woman determined to take care of her tribe, despite ethnic, racial, and gender prejudices. 

 

Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid

 A family’s struggle to cope with the tragic death of their son and brother. Grief, secrets, and eating disorders consume the family as they each struggle in their own way.

 

Books by Candace Calvert including By Your Side, Step by Step,  Maybe It’s You, and Life Support

Each book tell the heartwarming tale of medical professionals, usually nurses, struggling in their personal and romantic lives. A perfect blend of an authentic behind the scenes medical setting and uplifting romance. 

 

It’s Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country by Shannon Miller

A memoir about a member of the Magnificent 7, the gold medal winning gymnastics team at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Stories from her childhood, years in the sport of gymnastics, and cancer diagnosis make up this intriguing, brave and inspiring book.

 

The True Tails of Baker and Taylor: the Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town … and the World by Jan Louch

A purrrrfect book for cat and book lovers! An entire book all about adorable cats and their shenanigans in a library setting. What’s not to love!

 

This Is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky

The story of a teenage girl who cares for her mother suffering from bipolar disorder. Sophie hasn’t been able to live a “normal” teenage life ever. Then things change and with the help of others Sophie can start living her life for herself. A great book about children caring for their parents.

 

They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by DeAnne Blanton

Did you know that women served in the military in the Civil War? Nope? Neither did I before reading this book. It’s fascinating to learn about the aspects of history that are rarely written about in the history books. 

 

Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease by Yolanda Hadid

How does this memoir not have more reviews? A heartbreaking, inspiring, educational look at what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, specially chronic lyme disease. I cannot stop talking about this amazing book!

 

I highly recommend that you give some of these underrated books a read. Click the titles to be redirected to Goodreads for a full summary. Enjoy!

 

I want to know . . . 

which books are you adding to your TBR list?

 

Also, look out for the last post in the series . . . next up: Underrated

Books with than 1,000 ratings