Book Review – “In A Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself and Training for Life” (Authors: Sarah Reinertsen with Alan Goldsher)

In a Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself, and Training for Life

From author’s website:

Touching, funny, and honest, In A Single Bound is the story of a feisty little girl from Long Island who became one of the world’s most famous disabled sports figures. It is also a gripping memoir of inner strength about a one-legged child who struggled to fit in with her two-legged friends, yet grew into a woman who has dared to fear less and live more. Sarah Reinertsen was born with a congenital defect. At the age of 7, her leg was amputated. Yet, by the age of 13, she broke the 100-meter world record for female above-knee amputees. In 2005, she became the first female leg amputee to finish the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. A year later, in CBS’s reality TV show, The Amazing Race, she scaled the Great Wall of China. In A Single Bound follows her through all of these adventures and more.

I have to admit that I had never heard of this book, or indeed of Sarah Reinertsen, before Amazon suggested this book as a potential purchase – given that I have bought books about athletics over the last couple of years.  It took the vouchers that I got for Christmas to spur me into making a firm decision to buy it… and I’m glad that I did.

There’s a phrase that’s used in sport – “Use it as fuel” – and Sarah’s story sums up that phrase very well.  Born with a congenital condition called Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency which affected the development of her left leg, Sarah and her family made the decision to amputate the leg at 7 years old.

The book follows her life from birth and her early years of living with her condition leading up to the decision to amputate, through to her entry into the world of athletics, her entry into the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona (which in comparison to the way that Paralympic and disability athletics events today appear prehistoric), her move from track to marathons and Ironman competition  and into the US reality TV show “The Amazing Race”.

Alongside the athletics, it charts Sarah’s career as a spokesperson for disability sports and sport in general and as a television presenter/producer as well as more personal aspects of Sarah’s life including incidents where her father’s temperament affected her personal and family life, the effects of her parents’ separation – both in the immediate and long term – and the family’s reconciliation thanks to her Ironman escapades.  It also deals with incidents of, for want of a better phrase, ignorance regarding what people with a disability can do and even, in a couple of instances, segregation from her peers.

The style of writing in this book was straight to the point and conversational in tone, which lent itself well to the book not falling into the trap of preaching to people.  It doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter and the fact that Sarah’s writing style is very much “what you see is what you get” as well as being funny in a “gallows humour” type of style at points, you don’t feel pity for her, instead you admire both her and her accomplishments all the more.

Given that there is a bit of a narrow market for this book, I will say that it will appeal to people who are into their athletics and wider sports, but it also has a great human interest angle of a gutsy young woman who lives a life her own way.

Rating: 5/5

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