“Propulsive, transfixing, and disturbing. I could not set the book down. Harrowing and fearlessly honest, The Happiest Girl in the World is a haunting read because it couldn't have done justice to its subjects – fictional and real – any other way.” —Popsugar
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.
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“Dillon sticks the landing with this layered book about abuse, drive, family expectations, and trauma.”
Library Journal (starred review)