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What Made Maddy Run
Cover of What Made Maddy Run
What Made Maddy Run
The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen
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The heartbreaking story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose life and death by suicide reveal the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today in this #1 New York Times Sports and...
The heartbreaking story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose life and death by suicide reveal the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today in this #1 New York Times Sports and...
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  • The heartbreaking story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose life and death by suicide reveal the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today in this #1 New York Times Sports and Fitness bestseller.
    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 Previously indefatigable Maddy became withdrawn, and her thoughts centered on how she could change her life.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.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 19, 2017
    ESPN columnist Fagan (The Reappearing Act) delves into the haunting story of Maddy Holleran, a track runner at the University of Pennsylvania whose struggles with depression and the pressures of sports culture ended in suicide. The narrative flips back and forth between chapters that recreate Maddy’s life and essays on how athletics—especially at the collegiate level—negatively impact the mental health of millions of people. Having struggled with similar issues herself, Fagan is well suited to tackle the underlying problem: student athletes, she argues, are so frequently fed platitudes such as “pain is weakness leaving the body” and face such unrealistic demands that those with mental-health issues become discouraged from seeking help, certain that they’re alone. Those bits of analysis, in which Fagan ties together a host of problems facing modern college-bound youth, are the book’s strongest points; less helpful are Fagan’s frequent attempts to recreate Maddy’s thought processes. Nevertheless, Fagan’s book is well researched and the message is timely and important.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2017
    What led to one teen athlete's suicide.When Maddy Holleran began attending college at the University of Pennsylvania and continued her athletic career as a member of the track team, she and everyone who knew her could only imagine the best for this outgoing and popular 19-year-old. But as her freshman year progressed, Maddy slipped into depression, falling deeper and deeper into a black pit that surprised and confused her. She attempted to maintain appearances, writing cheery text messages and Facebook posts, but inside, she felt increasingly numb and unhappy. Friends, relatives, and counselors told her it was normal, the type of homesickness and transitional unhappiness almost every first-year student experienced, and that she would get through it. But they were all wrong. Using Maddy's text messages, emails, letters, and information compiled from family and friends, ESPN columnist Fagan (The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians, 2014, etc.) expertly re-creates the last months of Maddy's life. Interspersed with Maddy's story is an analysis of the type of commitment that is required to be a college athlete and the building pressure that many college students feel to appear happy, healthy, and successful in their given paths, despite any underlying doubt or despair. The author pays particular attention to the increasingly prominent role of social media and the disparity when one compares the online persona of someone like Maddy, who gave no definite indication that something was seriously wrong, with the actual issues at hand. Echoing the feelings Maddy must have felt, Fagan includes personal reflections on her own college athletic career, her desire to quit playing basketball, and the difficulty she had in figuring out what to do. 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2017
    Why would a 19-year-old academic standout and member of the University of Pennsylvania track team take a running leap from the top floor of a parking garage? It's shocking and heartbreaking. This is an expansion of espnW journalist Kate Fagan's feature on Maddy Holleran, who died by suicide in 2014. With the cooperation of Holleran's family and unfettered access to Maddy's computer and text messages, Fagan sorts through a maze of communication for clues into the life of unfiltered Maddy. She also brings to light mental-health issues affecting college students. It's clear that societal pressures, including a tendency toward perfectionism, played a role, but there's also the insidious presence of social media, creating a false sense of connectivity and validation. Fagan links Maddy's story to her own parallel struggles as a student athlete, but she delineates how their paths differ. This account should provoke dialogue on the pressing problem of teen suicide. Highly recommended for young adults, parents, coaches, student athletes, and all interested in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    June 15, 2017

    Colleges and universities have put greater focus on student mental health in recent years than ever before; however, there continue to be many students who don't get the help they need and end up taking their own lives. ESPN writer Fagan's (The Reappearing Act) book is the story of one of those students. Maddy Holleran was a talented scholar-athlete recruited by multiple universities for soccer and track. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and, to any casual observer, had the perfect life: beautiful, popular, Ivy League student, and playing varsity sports. In reality, Holleran was crumbling under the pressure of maintaining the high standards she had always set for herself, causing her to dread the things she worked so hard to achieve and to contemplate giving up. Fagan writes with personal insight into Holleran's struggles, as she was also a college athlete who found herself hating the life she had dreamed for herself. VERDICT Though the writing is a bit over the top at times, 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. [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/17.]--Sara Holder, Univ. of Illinois Libs., Champaign

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2017

    The January 2014 suicide of 19-year-old Maddy Holleran, a star athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, is a tragedy in itself that also highlights the escalating issue of depression among college students today. After espnW columnist Fagan profiled Maddy's life and death, she heard from many college athletes and here expands her piece to include a consideration of the pressures on these athletes and students generally today. Fagan's original piece drew some criticism as possibly provoking copycat suicides, but one hopes this book will bring greater understanding of the problem. With a 40,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen
Kate Fagan
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