Lauren Fleshman, five-time NCAA running champion at Stanford University and two-time national champion at the professional level, always displayed obsessive dedication, commitment and drive. In her superb memoir, Good for a Girl, she opens a door into her athletic and personal life, baring honest, hard truths about her path to becoming "one of the most decorated American distance runners of all time." She also fearlessly exposes the often dark, demanding underbelly of female sports and how she believes it needs to be reformed.
Fleshman was born in 1981 and grew up in a middle-class family that ate dinner together every night. Fleshman's father was a contradiction: big-hearted and charismatic, gruff and hot-headed. But Fleshman's abiding love for him--and her constant seeking of his love and approval--became a driving force. Her father instilled principles of excellence that carried over into Fleshman's life--especially when she found sports. She was a gifted runner in middle school PE, but after being beaten by a boy in a school race, she started showing up late. The track coach gave Fleshman an ultimatum: he would waive her "punishment" of collecting 150 soda cans for recycling if she'd agree to compete in a track meet. This launched Fleshman into competitive running; she excelled throughout high school, college and beyond, was sponsored by Nike, and later became a sought-after coach and entrepreneur.
Straightforward and well-structured, this memoir traces the many challenges, setbacks and confusions on Fleshman's road to success. Good for a Girl is a necessary, important read that will enlighten athletes of all genders, their coaches and those who cheer for them. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines