Friday, 24 April 2020

As Fast as I Can


As Fast as I Can by Penny Tangey (UQP), ISBN 9780702262814 RRP $16.99

Reviewed by Claire Stuckey

Vivian is ten and she is focused on finding the best sport for her so she can compete at a future Olympic Games. Spurred on by her friend, the very competitive Olivia, she continues to valiantly attempt to master long jump, swimming and other events especially leading up to the school sports carnival.  However, a new girl at school leads her to question her own and Olivia’s arduous attention to diet, exercise and the need to win.

On a regular school cross country run Vivian finds her place, easily winning the school competition as she progresses to further and tougher competition. However, on return from winning a major race, Vivian life is changed completely with the news her mother has been diagnosed with Long QT, a hereditary heart condition. This news affects the whole family, but Vivian especially as she is also diagnosed shortly after now and is unable to compete in the sport she loves and excels in. Her dreams shattered, she sets about first fighting to compete, questioning the prognosis, then coming to terms with her future.

This is an enjoyable book about young people striving for goals. We glimpse in the beginning of the book that uncontrolled access to diet and training information could be for dangerous for young girls. Vivian is a well-drawn character who we meet struggling to find her place in the sports arena but also finding time to welcome the new girl Lisa who clearly brings balance with her preference for team sports. We share and understand Vivian’s trials and failures applauding her success at long distance running. Vivian uses her intellect to research Long QT as she is unwilling to accept her illness or the consequences. Ultimately, she understands her mother’s hospitalization and her uncle’s untimely death as the real outcomes of underestimating the disease. 

I would certainly recommend this title: I enjoyed the story and the way in which themes including friendship, sibling rivalry, body image and competition were presented.

Recommended for ages 10 to 14 years.

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