Author: Alena Dillon

Narrators: Frankie Corzo, Mikhaila Aaseng

Publication Date: April 20, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Description

One of Good Morning America‘s Best Books of April!

From the acclaimed author of Mercy House comes a gripping new novel about a young woman’s dreams of Olympic gymnastic gold—and what it takes to reach the top

For Sera Wheeler, the Olympics is the reason for everything. It’s why she trains thirty hours a week, starves herself to under 100 pounds, and pops Advil like Tic Tacs.

For her mother, Charlene,  hungry for glory she never had, it’s why she rises before dawn to drive Sera to practice in a different state, and why the family scrimps, saves, and fractures. It’s why, when Sera’s best friend reports the gymnastics doctor to the authority who selects the Olympic Team, Sera denies what she knows about his treatments, thus preserving favor.

Their friendship shatters. But Sera protected her dream—didn’t she?

Sera doubles down, taping broken toes, numbing torn muscles, and pouring her family’s resources into the sport. Soon she isn’t training for the love of gymnastics. She’s training to make her disloyalty worthwhile. No matter the cost.

The Happiest Girl in the World explores the dark history behind an athlete who stands on the world stage, biting gold. It’s about the silence required of the exceptional, a tarnished friendship, and the sacrifices a parent will make for a child, even as a family is torn apart. It’s about the price of greatness.

Book Review

The Happiest Girl in the World is an engaging and intense novel about a gymnast’s journey to the Olympics. All Sera has ever wanted is to go medal at the Olympics. Sera’s mom shares her dream and will do anything to help Sera succeed. Sera’s best friend has been training beside her for years until she reports her doctor for sexual assault. This affects their friendship and Sera has to choose between standing up for her best friend or supporting the sport that she loves. The book follows Sera’s triumphs and failures. The darker side of gymnastics is discussed throughout the book while Sera achieves her dreams. The Happiest Girl in the World is told from the perspectives of Sera and her mother, Charlene. This was the first book I’ve read that mentions the pandemic. It is mentioned briefly at the end. The Happiest Girl in the World is a must read for fans of the Olympics and gymnastics. I felt like I got to learn more about the sport. The Happiest Girl in the World is a story of fighting for your goals and friendship. This book is difficult to read at times but very enjoyable overall.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Frankie Corzo and Mikhaila Aaseng and they both did a great job. They were the perfect voices for Sera and Charlene.

Thank you William Morrow and Harper Audio for The Happiest Girl in the World.

About the Author

Alena Dillon is the author of Mercy House, a LibraryReads pick, and the humor collection I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean. Alena’s work has appeared in publications including LitHub, River Teeth, Scary Mommy, Slice Magazine, The Rumpus, The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, Bustle, and The Smart Set. She teaches creative writing at Endicott College and St. Joseph’s College, and lives on the beautiful north shore of Boston with her husband, son, and little black pup named Penny.

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