by editor Rick McCharles
During the pre-Olympic furor of the book launch, I was as loud a critic of the media hype as anyone. In fact, I called the author a liar.
As a response to the critics, Jennifer often fell back on this position:
Chalked Up is a coming of age story that is about my early life spent as a gymnast. I hope you’ll find it has relevance beyond athletics. Itâ€™s intended to be the story of one child â€“ me â€“ not an exposÃ© about the sport. It touches on broader issues than gymnastics: athletes who are willing to do anything to be the very best, a culture in which second place means nothing because only winning matters, mother daughter relationships, eating disorders, coming into one’s own. Ultimately, it is for anyone who has ever felt they werenâ€™t good enough, ached to be better than they are, and has grown up to accept the person they were meant to be.
I did not criticize the book (as I had not read it), only the sensationalist media coverage surrounding it. The author was an enthusiastic participant.
Chalked Up finally arrived in my local library.
Many had told me it was not nearly as bad as I would expect. And they were right.
It’s engaging. Fast paced. And tries to be … brutally “honest”. An interesting, if unrelentingly depressing, horror story of a gymnastics career.
There are enough factual errors to make it obvious Sey did very little research. No editor did a fact check.
By the end of the book it was clear that Jennifer Sey was the wrong child to train in the world’s most difficult sport. And that Parkettes was the worst possible club for her.
She sums up:
If my friends â€” some of whom have known me since my days as a gymnast â€” were asked to describe me, I think that they would say I am well adjusted and confident. A dedicated mother, friend, sister, wife, daughter. I am a part of all these things. But I am also anxious, sad, self-loathing, impatient, angry, frustrated, competitive, bordering on unhinged at times. …
I wonder if she regrets airing her demons.
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