How one woman overcame numerous obstacles to become an Olympic silver medalist in rowing.
Two years after Title IX was passed in 1974, 16-year-old Gilder stood on the shores of the Charles River in Boston watching rowing sculls move across the water. Though she’d never been in a shell before, she was instantly attracted to the idea of skimming across the water in fluid motion. As a freshman at Yale, she was finally able to experience rowing firsthand; by the end of the year, she had “stumbled into its demanding embrace, succumbed to its brutal glamour, and accepted its preeminence in my life. I was in a full-blown love affair with the sport. I wanted it all. I would do whatever it took to be great.” Filled with lyrical descriptions of rowing on the water and detailed portrayals of the workouts she endured to build up her strength and stamina, the narrative flows with the passion the author feels for her sport. She unabashedly discusses the physical and emotional traumas she battled as she worked her way from rowing in college to national and international competitions, forever looking toward an Olympic medal to crown her career. Having seen her mother come unhinged when her father left her for a younger woman, Gilder’s deepest fears centered on becoming just like her mother, but through rowing and a personal tragedy, she was able to persevere. She also openly examines her ambiguities about her sexual preferences at a time when being lesbian was not discussed in public. The author’s ardent story is one of struggle and triumph, of shrugging off the naysayers to follow a dream to its end, whether good or bad, and of following the heart.
A passionate memoir of a woman rower who battled numerous odds in search of becoming the best in her sport.