BOOK REVIEW: What is a Girl Worth?

REVIEW: Vicky, FCN Founder

“I have seen little hope that any light would be shed by coming forward, so I have remained quiet.  If there is a possibility that is changing, I will come forward as publicly as necessary.”

What is a Girl Worth? is the story of Rachel Denhollander, American Lawyer and former gymnast who was abused by Larry Nasser.  

It’s a book filled with important key lessons for all decision makers in sport; from CEO’s, administrators and coaches.  Throughout, Rachel shares insights that, if taken on board by the powerful few in sport, could change the way athletes (and other victims) are treated when coming forward for help and when wanting to speak up about their stories.

“The idea many people want to cling to – that survivors just don’t know how to speak up – simply isn’t true.  It’s a notion we need to let go of and instead do a better job understanding what really keeps victims silent.”

Rachel begins her book by sharing how experiences in her childhood shaped her understanding of what was right and wrong, how she developed an innate drive to defend others and how at aged only 8, she announced that one day she would become an attorney.  

‘What is a Girl Worth’ is an eye opening and powerful account by a whistleblower and survivor of sexual abuse.   It’s an incredibly powerful book.  It stops you in your tracks, and makes you question your own role in sport, if someone told you about their experience of abuse, would you act on it?  How would you listen?  How would you respond?

It’s a very difficult read.  What Rachel and others went through is utterly unfathomable and unspeakably heinous.  I have to be honest and say I had to put it down and walk away on occasion.  The sheer magnitude of depravity and callousness displayed not only by the abuser, but by many of those whose job it was to take care of these girls, is nothing short of an act of psychopathy that defies belief and shatters all notions of humanity.

As difficult and heart wrenching to process as the book is, I truly believe that EVERYONE who has a role in sport should be made to read it.  It’s a reminder that many sports governing bodies have forgotten why they exist, and it’s a reminder that the machine that is sport has left the welfare of the athlete behind as it continues to bulldoze forwards.  To any athletics administrator and decision maker reading this – I plead with you to read this.