Long overdue, I know. I really need to work on updating more and I really need to stop saying that I really need to start working on it and I… well, you get the idea. Today, the 2016 Olympics officially kicks off. So this review is incredibly timely. Almost like I planned it. If only.

Anyway, We’ll start with a conversation I completely made up in my head…

Swimming with Faith: The Missy Franklin Story – Natalie Davis Miller

“Hey, the Olympics is coming up, we need a book about someone who will be competing.”
“How about that swimmer girl who smiles a lot and won some medals and is famous. Missy something.”
“Do you know anything about swimming?”
“No, but I read some newspaper articles about her and I follow her on Twitter.”
“Cool.”
“Should I set up an interview?”
“Nah, just use what’s on the web”
“Okay, I don’t have much, though”
“That’s okay, we’ll make it a kids book so it can be short.”
“Should I fact check any of these stats?”
“Nah, it’s just numbers, we need to get this published so we can sell it before it’s too late.”

That’s how I imagine the conversation went when Zondervan decided to have Natalie Davis Miller write this “biography” of Missy Franklin.

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. Both of my boys are swimmers and there just aren’t too many books out there about swimming and swimmers – that they can read and enjoy. (I am reading Anthony Ervin’s memoir, Chasing Water, and the writing is fantastic, but not really age appropriate). Anyway, as much as I wanted to like this book, I have to unfortunately be the bad guy here. (Yes, I see all the five star reviews on amazon already).

Reading this book, I get the impression that Miller has never met or spoken with Missy, any of her coaches, or any of her teammates. It seems reasonable to assume Miller has never attended a swim meet or swim practice. I’m certain she doesn’t understand the disciplines of swimming or which events are which, much less what times are reasonable to achieve in any combination of distance and discipline. This would explain why every quote from the book is attributed to another article or appearance – nothing is first hand, unless you count twitter quotes. This would also explain why Miller attributes Franklin with a national age group record in the 200m Fly (an event she has rarely competes – much less one with a record dating back to before Franklin was born) or why she cites unhumanly times to some events by dropping the minutes and only including the seconds (e.g. 50.43 seconds when the time was actually 4:50.43).

Again, I appreciate the idea and timeliness of this book, but it really fails to deliver on any expectations – assuming you have any expectations. I suppose the desired audience is little girls who seek inspiration from an Olympic hero and there is some of that, but the lack of attention to detail everywhere else calls into question the legitimacy of any claims this book makes on Franklin’s faith or life or anything. I’m not telling you not to buy the book. I’m simply explaining that you are getting the Teen Beat – no, better yet, the Brio (a now-defunct teen girl magazine from Focus on the Family) version of a Missy Franklin cover story.

peace… love… bdg…