26 September 2023

The Girls

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Abigail Pesta, Seal Press, $39.99.

Sub-titled ‘An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor, and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down’, this book details some untold unbelievable stories. It is disturbing.

It’s the inside narrative of how serial predator Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar got away with abusing hundreds of gymnasts for decades – and how a team of brave women banded together to bring him down.

This is work of original reporting based on interviews conducted by Pesta with 25 survivors of more than a quarter century of abuse and manipulation at the hands of Nassar.

She says, “to reveal Nassar’s evolution from doctor to predator, I also interviewed family members, coaches, legal experts, and many others, and collected and reviewed hundreds of pages of court documents and police records spanning the decades”.

Tasha Schwikert, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, told Abigail, “amid all the brutal coaching and training in gymnastics, he was our trusted friend.”

“Sara Teristi saw the making of a monster. She watched a man transform from doctor to predator, starting decades ago when he gained access to a gym full of little girls. She was one of those girls. She may have been his very last target.”

Described as the most prolific sex criminal in American sports history, Sara’s fateful march toward Nassar began when she was in kindergarten, a typical kid growing up in a tiny town along the banks of the Grand River in Michigan.

In the wake of abuse revelations, athletes are asking why they weren’t protected. Victims want to know why they weren’t believed. Parents are questioning why authorities didn’t stop him when they had the chance.

This is the narrative of how these women found their voice and came together, refusing to let the abuse of their past define their future.

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