When a young, talented athlete, actor, musician, etc. comes on the scene, it is easy to be swept up in the excitement and think that young person has it made. They are gifted and should be placed on a pedestal. In her debut, Godspeed, Casey Legler debunks the myth of the talented, young athlete by sharing her story of life as a troubled Olympic swimmer.

To an outsider, Legler had a unique and brilliant life opportunity. She lived in France with her family and began swimming at age 12. Her height and raw athletic talent made her a natural and gifted swimmer. Her entire life seemed to revolve around swimming – where she went to school and when she could hang out with her non-swimming friends, complete with a map of every meet she’d compete in through the 2000 Olympics.

Behind the scenes, Legler and her siblings pretended that their parents’ marriage wasn’t deteriorating around them. She kept the encounters with the sexually abusive doctor and male teammates to herself. Drugs, alcohol, and defying authority became her main hobbies. In short, the life that would seem blessed from the outside was falling apart from the inside.

Unlike most memoirs, Legler doesn’t get bogged down with the minutiae. She tells snippets of her life from 1989 through 1998 focusing on the important – and oftentimes traumatic – points in that timeframe. By writing these vignettes, Legler conveys the raw emotions of loneliness, addiction, and a desire to belong to something.

Her actions can be heartbreaking at times. As the reader, it is easy to see Legler’s sexual encounters, drug activity, and suicide attempts as a cry for help, but it seems that those around her ignore it or make excuses for her because of her swimming talent. Legler writes, “I’m a failure and no one knows it: I stare in front of me, at the expanse of time ahead, and feel nothing on the inside.”

However, both Legler and the reader discover that swimming wasn’t the path that she was destined to have. Today, Casey Legler is an artist, restaurateur, and model. She became a trailblazer in the fashion world as the first woman to be signed to Ford Models to exclusively model men’s clothing. Godspeed is a poetic, dynamic memoir that illustrates more than a journey of self-discovery: it sets the stage for the story of a personal rebirth.

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Brynn Devereaux
Brynn Devereaux
"Brynn Devereaux is a freelance writer for Baltimore OUTloud. As an arts writer, she enjoys exploring the local arts scene and bringing attention to new books and authors. Brynn is a Scranton expat and a Towson University graduate."
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