Review: Little Girls In Pretty Boxes

Little Girls In Pretty Boxes

Joan Ryan’s gut-wrenching nonfiction book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes is a beautifully written book about a hideously ugly topic. That is gymnastics, one of the most horrifying and least cost-effective sports ever. One horror story after another comes out of it. Fatal crashes, eating disorders, and girls forced into horrendous discipline and generally ruined by something that almost all of them see absolutely no benefit from. The aging curve is so ridiculously steep that at 24 , Simone Biles was considered the equivalent of athletes with freakish longevity like Jamie Moyer or Frank Gore.

Ryan’s only “problem” is that she’s so good at telling something where stage parents leave their daughters in the hands of a Ceausescu-vintage slave driver (and, with recent revelations after the book’s publication, someone far, far, worse). Most sports involve the participants getting bigger and stronger. Gymnastics forces them to stay small and underdeveloped. There’s been understandable talk of banning American Football, but Ryan makes a much better case for gymnastics.

It’s a good book about a bad sport.

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