A modeling industry trailblazer and former Olympic swimmer recounts her troubled girlhood.
In her debut, Legler passionately relives her years in Europe and stateside. She was born to expatriate American parents who, despite a disintegrating marriage, struggled to raise her and her siblings. Restless and lonely, the uncommonly tall girl found solace and purpose in swimming. She quickly developed great skill and dexterity, which positioned her for greatness as her strength and determination grew with regular training sessions. The author swam competitively in her early teens as she navigated simmering hormones, smitten boys, and the abusive, predatory physician treating her scoliosis. Legler’s lyrically descriptive prose glides across childhood anecdotes of her first swimming attempt as well as awkward sexual interludes as she strained to discover her identity and a place of her own among her classmates. She shows the precarious balancing act that ensued between her rigorous training sessions at the pool and the soft-core rebellion of teenage life and the struggle to fit in: “I have a swim meet the next day but I’ll get drunk anyway so that I can crawl on the couch with the rest of them. And I do. And it feels good. And I am beautiful.” The author also began to embrace the first sparks of attraction to other girls while exploring her desires with men. Then she shifted her focus to qualifying for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. She intricately describes every nuance of the competitive experience alongside her personal self-discovery and experimentation with sex, alcohol, and procuring drugs for her fellow teammates. Legler decorates each of her adventures with urgency and lively, only occasionally strained poetic expression. Readers familiar with the author know she has grown past the dark days described in this memoir to become a unique fashion model, social justice activist, and successful entrepreneur. This focused attention on her youthful turmoil represents a significant need for blissful catharsis.
A coming-of-age drama captured through poetic prose and convincing honesty.