A Personal and Powerful Invitation (Book Review)

Denhollander, Rachael. What is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. Tyndale Momentum, Carol Stream, IL. 2019. 352 pages.

The stories they share haunt my thoughts. The wounds they bear break my heart. The weight survivors of sexual abuse carry I cannot begin to imagine. Yet, while my heart has been affected, my mouth has remained closed. When I should have spoken up, I have remained silent. After reading What Is a Girl Worth? By Rachael Denhollander, this has to change.

Rachael’s Story

Many will recognize the name of Rachael Denhollander as the one who broke the news to the Indianapolis Star of the sexual abuse that was done at the hands of Larry Nassar. In the span of 29 chapters covering over 300 pages, Rachael shares her courageous story as she recounts the trauma of being sexually abused and the determination to expose the truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. She takes the first 12 chapters to recount the events leading up to her contacting the Indianapolis Star to expose Larry Nassar for who he really was. In the remaining chapters of the book, Rachael details the challenging process she faced in working with the hope the law and courts would convict Larry for his sexual abuse to countless girls over many years and to find justice in the end.

A Personal and Powerful Account

The book is a personal and powerful account of speaking up against the evil of sexual abuse and calling people and institutions to stand up for justice. Rachael opens up about the struggles she faced after being sexually abused, including wrestling with her Christian faith. She counsels readers on the issue of people not believing victims about their abuse and why some do not speak up sooner about their abuse. Hers is a voice both counselors and the abused need to hear.

By highlighting her case with Larry Nassar, Rachael shows this is more than a personal problem in our culture; it is an institutional issue. Even with Larry sentenced and behind bars, USAG and MSU still have a ways to go to reform the way they recognize, report, and respond to sexual abuse. Moreover, as it does so throughout the whole book, Rachael’s courage calls out the church to be better on this issue. Sexual abuse is not only an evil done in gymnastics but in the church as well, as Rachael knows and shows. The church has too often been silent, speaking up in theory but remaining quiet when it is in their own backyard. They focus on grace and forgiveness to the neglect of justice. Because she loves the church and is convinced the gospel is the only sufficient answer for justice (Denhollander 100-101), Rachael believes strongly the church must care well for the abused. The power Rachael’s words carry call for people in general and institutions like the church to love and protect those who may not always be able to protect themselves.

More Than a Book, It Is An Invitation

What Is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by Rachael Denhollander is a personal and powerful story of Rachael’s courage to face evil and speak up for truth and justice. Yet, it is more than a book. It is a call to action. To fight against evil. To report what is right. To respond with care for the abused, seeking healing for the wounded, and loving well no matter what the cost. There is still work to do. Consider What is a Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander an invitation to listen well to the abused, to speak up for what is right, and to join the fight against sexual abuse.

I received this book from Tyndale Momentum on behalf of the author in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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