Fanciful dreams of gold-medal glory led Jennifer Sey to the local gymnastics club in 1976. A natural aptitude and a willingness to endure punishing hard work took her to the elite ranks by the time she was eleven years old. Jennifer traveled the country and the world competing for the U.S. National team, but the higher she set her sights—the world championships, the 1988 Olympics—the more she began to ignore her physical and mental well-being. Jennifer suffered devastating injuries, developed an eating disorder, and lived far from family and friends, all for the sake of winning. When her parents and coaches lost sight of her best interests, Jennifer had no choice but to redefine her path into adulthood. She had to save herself.
Chalked Up delivers an unforgettable coming-of-age story that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt not good enough and has finally come to accept who they were meant to be.
Sey writes of her career in internationally competitive gymnastics, which culminated when she won the 1986 U.S. national championship at age 17. From the start Sey was an underdog, ever the second-best athlete on the team hoping to prove herself with tenacity and toughness. She endured numerous injuries including a broken femur, which could have ended her career as well as an eating disorder, depression, isolation and tremendous strain on her family. With each new sacrifice that her parents and brother made to support her, the stakes crept higher, inuring them all to gymnastics' inherent physical and psychological trauma. After claiming the U.S. title, Sey was "shell-shocked and exhausted," suddenly robbed of her lifelong motivation. "I'd always been a fighter, a come-from-behind girl. Now that I was on top, the battle would be unwinnable." The memoir's poignant glimpses at Sey's adult struggle to reckon with her past are regrettably sparse, and her prose occasionally lapses into wordiness, but overall, she has written a courageous story befitting a comeback kid a timely release for the 2008 Olympics.
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