I was not going to read Rachael Denhollander’s book What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. As a wife, mom, and counselor, I did not feel like I had emotional bandwidth to engage with such a weighty, close to home topic. Like you, I’ve heard the statistics regarding sexual abuse. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “one in three women experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.” Like you, I realize there are no good options for a survivor coming forward. Like you, I realize even with all that Rachael has accomplished through coming forward, she still lives with the trauma and scars of the original abuses. Why would I read a book that reminds me of all of this?
Against these odds, at the urging of a colleague, I picked up Rachael’s book and did not put it down until I had read every single word. I urge you to do the same.
What is a Girl Worth? is the memoir of Rachael Denhollander. She describes herself as “wife, mother, follower of Christ, advocate, author, speaker. Part of the army that brought Larry Nassar to justice.” CNN referred to Denhollander as a whistleblower, but as you read her memoir you will see that she did more than blow a whistle. She sounded a fog horn and has not let up.
Throughout this memoir, Rachael lets us into her world beginning as a young girl and through to the present day. She spares few details and the reader will come face to face with horrific evils (on multiple fronts). She does not do this to be indulgent or even to justify herself. Her memoir is ultimately an invitation. In the epilogue, she concludes with these words:
So much work remains. So much evil to fight. So much healing to reach for. So many wounded to love. Consider this your invitation to join in that work. To do what is right, no matter the cost. To hold to the straight line in the midst of the battle. To define your success by faithfulness in the choices you make. The darkness is there, and we cannot ignore it. But we can let it point us to the light….