DEFIANT by Janine Shepherd


A Broken Body Is Not a Broken Person
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An athlete's memoir about her ability to overcome personal tragedy and reinvent her life.

In 1986, Shepherd (On My Own Two Feet, 2007, etc.), a cross-country skier who was expected to represent her native Australia in the 1988 Olympics, was out on a bike ride with friends when a truck hit her. Her body was crushed: broken back and neck, five broken ribs, broken bones in her feet, contusions to her kidneys, hip and leg muscles torn from bones, extensive lacerations, and massive internal bleeding. Initially, her doctors weren't sure she'd survive. In lengthy detail, Shepherd shares how she spent the next six months in the hospital and in rehab, undergoing treatments and surgeries for her injuries, which left her with permanent disabilities that wiped out any chance of returning to elite athlete status. She tried returning to college but eventually found a new direction for her life in learning how to fly. She explains how she tackled the task of getting her pilot's license, using the same intensity of concentration and will she had used to train for competitive skiing events. From there, the memoir makes some rapid leaps in time as Shepherd chronicles her involvement with a fellow pilot; the births of her children; writing a book about her accident, which was made into a movie; becoming a TED talk speaker; and the dissolution of her marriage. The author places great emphasis on the first few years immediately following the accident that so drastically changed the trajectory of her life, but much of the material is similar to what she already chronicled in previous memoirs. Shepherd’s tenacity and determination are evident throughout the book, and her recovery is remarkable, but the narrative could have used more depth and introspection.

An inspirational but thin account of an athlete's tragic accident and the long road she traveled to reach a different kind of fulfilling life.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62203-710-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Sounds True
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2016


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