The first former gymnast to go public with accusations against convicted sexual predator Larry Nassar refracts her story through the lens of her Christian faith.
Attorney and advocate Denhollander kept hearing two questions after people learned she had been molested by a team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University: “How could this happen?” and “Why didn’t you say something sooner?” She answers both in a debut that blends memoir with a true-crime story and blistering critique of how powerful institutions deny, cover up, or mishandle sexual abuse. After suffering an injury at age 15, the author sought help from Nassar, who—without gloves or consent—vaginally penetrated her with his fingers, hiding the assault from her mother (who was in the exam room) by reaching under her baggy shorts or positioning himself strategically between parent and child. Deeply religious, Denhollander knew that the clergy often counseled abuse victims to “forgive and forget.” As she saw it, however, seeking justice “would demonstrate the love of Christ much better.” So she grieved privately until, nearly 16 years later, the Indianapolis Star exposed rampant abuse by gymnastics coaches, which led her to email the paper about Nassar. The floodgates opened after a story on her molestation appeared: Other gymnasts spoke up, the police got involved, and investigators found evidence of years of coverups by USA Gymnastics and MSU. Denhollander’s tone can be overly saccharine—she refers frequently to the “precious” abuse victims—but this is a story of true moral courage that becomes as gripping as a legal thriller in a climactic courtroom scene that has 156 abuse victims testifying against Nassar at his sentencing hearing. Spectators wept as pictures of the witnesses as young gymnasts flashed on a screen; by the end of this book, even the most cynical readers may be reaching for their own tissues.
An inspiring David-and-Goliath story with a strong Christian tone.