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Reviews for Good For A Girl

by Lauren Fleshman

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In Good for a Girl, two-time national champion Fleshman chronicles her life as a runner while arguing that the current sports industry is failing young female athletes and needs reform. In Warrior, Guerrero tracks her rise to chief investigative correspondent for Inside Edition despite harassment and pushback (35,000-copy first printing). In fall 2019, Atlantic senior editor Hendrickson limned Joe Biden's struggle to conquer stuttering (and his own) in a story that went viral and is expanded in Life on Delay, which highlights key issues stutterers face like bullying and depression and the support systems that mattered. ANew York Times best-selling author (see A Small Furry Prayer, my favorite) and human performance expert (he's executive director of the Flow Research Collective), Kotler explains how he pushed passed his limits to become a crack skier at age 53 inGnar Country (50,000-copy first printing). In Unraveling, the New York Times best-selling Orenstein (Cinderella Ate My Daughter) ends up touching on key social issues (from climate change to women's rights) as she explains how she coped with big life changes (a mother's death, a father's illness, a daughter's departure for college) by learning how to knit a sweater from scratch (shearing a sheep, spinning and dying yarn, and more) (75,000-copy first printing). In a series of weekly cartoon strips, celebrated French cartoonist Sattouf (The Arab of the Future, 4 vols.) recounted the life of his friend's daughter Esther from ages 10 to 12; Esther's Notebooks offers 156 of these strips, taken from the first three volumes of a series that appeared in Europe and has sold over 900,000 copies. Raped at age 11 by a neighborhood boy, Taylor was sent to live in an aunt's substandard household in rundown East St. Louis; The Love You Save recounts how she survived and thrived, finally becoming a Daily Beast editor at large (150,000-copy first printing).

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Retired distance runner Fleshman walks readers through the barriers she overcame on her path to becoming a track and field champion in this motivational offering. Recounting that her father “wanted sons, but he got two daughters and refused to adjust his parenting plan,” she describes constantly seeking his approval and finally winning it with her senior year California Cross-Country State championship. She faces down the sport’s conventions, such as perpetuating eating disorders in the name of ideal race weights, and criticizes the professional contracts that leave no space for pregnancy for female athletes: “The message was clear: win or perish, and be a good girl.” Though injuries prevented Fleshman from qualifying for the Olympics, she won two 5,000-meter national championships before retiring in 2016 to focus on her family and her role as a coach, as well as her work with the feminist athletic wear company Oiselle. The author’s raw honesty when it comes to often taboo topics for professional female athletes (including menstruation and mental health struggles) is refreshing, as is her willingness to confront the ways professional racing “folds and smashes women and girls into a male-based infrastructure.” Fleshman’s determination stokes the competitive spirit in this rousing call to action. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (Jan.)

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

A top-ranked high-school runner in the late 1990s, Fleshman went on to become a two-time U.S. national champion in the 5,000 meters and a five-time NCAA champion at Stanford (she was the first person in her family to attend college). In this moving coming-of-age memoir, she chronicles the highs and lows of competition from a young age through her college years and time as an elite professional runner. There were disappointments as well—not making an Olympics team and the dawning realization that the culture of running was a man's world—but with each turn of her career, she grows in self-awareness and introspection as she confronts the flaws in a sports system that lead to disordered eating and injuries that specifically affect female athletes. As her professional running years wind down, she pivots to a career as a blogger/writer, entrepreneur, and coach. The fast-paced, smoothly written narrative will resonate with student-athletes and is highly recommended for everyone involved with female athletes, from coaches to parents. Fleshman is a role model unafraid to share her vulnerability and advocate for gender equality. She may not have all the answers, but she asks the right questions.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A former national champion distance runner discusses her experiences as an elite female athlete in a system built to the measure of male bodies. Fleshman became aware of her athletic gifts during the “girl power revolution of the 1990s.” Equal access provisions of the 1972 Title IX law allowed her to engage in sports in ways her talented mother could not. Throughout childhood, the author routinely beat boys at running. Then puberty made her and other girls aware that they and their bodies were now “subject to the dominant male gaze.” Still, her compact frame still made Fleshman competitive with the male runners she both admired and envied. She became a champion courted by universities all over the country, including her alma mater, Stanford. Then her body began to change her sophomore year, and suddenly she found herself under pressure to maintain a “race weight” to keep competitive. As a college and professional athlete, Fleshman also suffered a series of stress fractures in her feet. The injuries raised her awareness that diets for women athletes could impair key bodily functions like bone production and that, physiologically, females did not gain their peak athletic power until their late 20s. At the same time, she learned how corporate sponsors like Nike objectified women athletes for profit, demonstrating how “sport and femininity were at odds.” In 2009, Fleshman began an advice column for female athletes to address issues like “body image, eating disorders, depression, lost periods, stress fractures, mysterious injury cycles, [and] anxiety,” all of which she had seen or experienced during her career and that later propelled her into her second career as a women’s running coach. As the author lays bare the price women pay for success in an athletic system that still favors males, she offers a thoughtful, much-needed plea for a more humane, gender-neutral sporting system. Inspirational and impassioned. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.