The Happiest Girl in the World

Morrow. Apr. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780063019041. pap. $16.99. F
When she’s six years old, Sera Wheeler thinks gymnastics is fun. Then her YMCA instructor tells her mother that Sera has a gift and could be an elite gymnast. She and her new friend Lucy get closer to their dreams of the Olympics when they are invited to train at a camp run by a gymnastics power couple. At camp, Lucy has some bad stomach pain, so Dr. Eddie Levett comes to the cabin to treat Lucy. The visit is the start of Eddie’s long-term abuse of Lucy. Lucy tries to report him several times, but none of the adults will listen to her. Desperate to keep her Olympic dreams alive and to prove that her family’s time and monetary sacrifices were worth it, Sera turns on Lucy and their friendship fractures.
VERDICT As she did with the Catholic Church in Mercy House, Dillon lays bare the sins of the U.S. gymnastic world and all those who enable this sport that forces young girls to give up their childhoods and subject their bodies to harsh physical routines and drugs. Dillon sticks the landing with this layered book about abuse, drive, family expectations, and trauma.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing