Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: October 15, 2019
Your Local Book Store, Amazon
I read a lot of dark and difficult books. Given my light and sunny personality, who knows why, but I like it. However, this year my nonfiction has included Bad Blood, She Said, Burn it Down, and Fall and Rise—all well-done books, but not in a happy way. Somehow the universe knew I needed some unequivocally bright and shiny reading and so dropped Adam Rippon’s memoir Beautiful on the Outside in my hands.
If you’re not into sports or pop culture or haven’t watched television in two years then you might not know who Rippon is. He’s an American figure skater and the first openly gay athlete to go to the Olympics. Oh, and when asked about Mike Pence, who believes in conversion therapy, being head of the Olympic delegation, he made news by making his opinions clear. But that’s barely two paragraphs in a life story that had me captivated from start to finish.
If you’re not into sports or pop culture or haven’t watched television in two years then you might not know who Rippon is. He’s an American figure skater and the first openly gay athlete to go to the Olympics. Oh, and when asked about Mike Pence, who believes in conversion therapy, being head of the Olympic delegation, he made news by making his opinions clear. But that’s barely two paragraphs in a life story that had me captivated from start to finish. Because dealing with Pence is one of the least interesting things about him.
Rippon’s family life was one that felt solidly middle class, which is fine unless you decide you want to be an elite athlete. He was the oldest of six children and his mother took on extra jobs to pay for his lessons, rink time, and training and drove him where he needed to go. She was a powerhouse of a mother without making Rippon’s skating dreams about her. It’s easy to see where he gets his determination and creativity.
Beautiful on the Outside provides an interesting look into what it takes to be an athlete who competes on the world stage. Somehow, I had a sense that the associations that hold the competitions fund the athletes, but that’s only partially true. You have to maintain a certain rank to get stipends and have expenses paid and it applies only to the athletes who reach the highest levels. Even then, the costs are exorbitant—rink time, coaches, trainers, gyms, costumes, travel expenses, physical therapists…the list goes on and on. It means that for most of his career Rippon had to find ways to afford his dreams. This often meant living in other people’s homes and eating free/cheap food. His story firmly dispels the myth of the pampered athlete.
While the professional aspects of being a high-caliber athlete are fascinating, it is Rippon’s personality that makes Beautiful on the Outside a delight. Even as he acknowledges his flaws and fears, he owns them. He is exactly the person you see on the ice and in interviews—funny, charming, anxious, but absolutely secure in who he is. I loved every minute of reading this book. p.s. Read it all—the dustjacket, the dedication. His sly humor is everywhere.
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This sounds great! I loved him when he won Dancing With the Stars!
You’ll love reading him tell his own story. If he reads the audiobook I’d listen to it, for sure!