UNSINKABLE by Jessica Long


From Russian Orphan to Paralympic Swimming World Champion
Age Range: 8 - 14
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In a series of “moments,” Paralympic swimmer Long describes how she became “the second-most decorated Paralympian of all time.”

“I’ve never been good at listening to people. They always seem to tell me what I can’t do,” writes Long, setting the theme for her informative—if somewhat disorganized—discussion of sports, family, physical disability, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Christianity. Born in Siberia with fibular hemimelia, a condition that later necessitated the amputation of her legs, Long was adopted into an American family that encouraged her love of swimming. (“God had a plan for that little Russian orphan,” she concludes.) The youngest member of the U.S. Paralympic swim team at age 12, she went on to compete in the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympic Games. Her acceptance into a “second family” of other amputees after growing up without disabled peers will resonate with readers who also desire camaraderie with others like themselves. Though Long’s disdain for physical or emotional weakness borders on cliché, the sacrifices her grueling training requires—and her desire to make them worthwhile—provide sympathetic context for her aversion to “giving in.” The book’s bright color scheme is occasionally hard on the eyes; blues and reds in the accompanying photos are intense, and white text on yellow and sky blue backgrounds blurs the first page of each chapter. Long and her family present white.

Even readers who are not sports enthusiasts will appreciate Long’s upbeat account of finding confidence in the water and in life. (Memoir. 8-14)

Pub Date: June 5th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-328-70725-3
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: HMH Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2018


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