From noted ESPN commentator and journalist Kate Fagan, the heartbreaking and vital story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose death by suicide rocked the University of Pennsylvania campus and whose life reveals with haunting detail and uncommon understanding the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today.
If you scrolled through the Instagram feed of 19-year-old Maddy Holleran, you would see a perfect life: a freshman at an Ivy League school, recruited for the track team, who was also beautiful, popular, and fiercely intelligent. This was a girl who succeeded at everything she tried and who was only getting started.
But when Maddy began her long-awaited college career, her parents noticed something changed. Previously indefatigable Maddy became withdrawn, and her thoughts centered on how she could change her life. In spite of thousands of hours of practice and study, she contemplated transferring from the school that had once been her dream. When Maddy's dad, Jim, dropped her off for the first day of spring semester, she held him a second longer than usual. That would be the last time Jim would see his daughter.
What Made Maddy Run began as a piece that Kate Fagan, a columnist for espnW, wrote about Maddy's life. What started as a profile of a successful young athlete whose life ended in suicide became so much larger when Fagan started to hear from other college athletes also struggling with mental illness. This is the story of Maddy Holleran's life and her struggle with depression, which also reveals the mounting pressures young people, and college athletes in particular, face to be perfect, especially in an age of relentless connectivity and social media saturation.
"It is impossible not to be affected by Holleran's heart-wrenching story. An appropriate (if difficult) read for current and future college athletes, their coaches, and parents." (Library Journal)
"A compassionate and frank look at depression and the social pressure faced by many college students as seen through the eyes of one young woman." (Kirkus)
"Fagan's book is well-researched and the message is timely and important." (Publishers Weekly)
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Consider reading instead of listening to this book
It goes without saying that this is a tragic story. In trying to elucidate the factors contributing to this young woman's suicide, perhaps something positive will come of Madison's untimely death.
The exploration of the impact of social media on the generation that has not known a world without extreme connectivity. The destructiveness of unrealistic expectations of oneself that can be at least partially attributed to the bombardment by the "happiness" displayed on social media, and the exclusion of the reality of peoples lives is explored.
Things have changed drastically since I went to college in the 80's. The author effectively contrasts the not so remote, yet extremely different experiences of going off to college. Ironically, there is so much more awareness of mental illness now than there was 30 years ago, and an armamentarium of psychotropic medications. It is perplexing that such extreme suffering is still so rampant.
I'm sorry to say that the narration of this book was TERRIBLE! If a person spoke in the manner that Ms Fagan read aloud, it would be bizarre. It was extremely distracting with emphasis on words misplaced, and pauses in inappropriate places. I had to increase the speed to 1.5x, and it still seemed stilted and just wrong. How can this be when someone is reading one's own words? I had urges to give up the entire time I was listening, but I wanted to finish the story. It needs to be revised by an experienced narrator. Too late for me, but it would spare others.
I don't know - it would depend on the reviews.
Again, I advise reading this instead of listening to it.
- S. Shewcraft