The Luckiest Girl in the World: A young skater battlres her self-destructive impulses

The Luckiest Girl in the World: A young skater battlres her self-destructive impulses

by Steven Levenkron
     
 

Just looking at Katie Roskova, you'd think she had it all: she was pretty, popular, an A-student at an exclusive private school, and on her way to becoming a champion figure skater. But there was another Katie-the one she hid from the world-who was having trouble dealing with the mounting pressures of her young life. And it was this Katie who, with no other

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Overview

Just looking at Katie Roskova, you'd think she had it all: she was pretty, popular, an A-student at an exclusive private school, and on her way to becoming a champion figure skater. But there was another Katie-the one she hid from the world-who was having trouble dealing with the mounting pressures of her young life. And it was this Katie who, with no other means of expression available to her, reacted to her overbearing mother, her absent father, her unforgiving schedule, and her oblivious classmates by turning her self-doubt into self-hatred. And into self-mutilation.In his previous novel, The Best Little Girl in the World, Steven Levenkron brought insight, expertise, and sensitivity to the painful subject of anorexia nervosa. Now he applies these same talents to demystifying a condition that is just as heartbreaking, and becoming more common everyday. Through his depiction of Katie's self-mutilating behavior-she is called "a cutter" by her peers-and her triumphant road to recovery, he offers a compelling profile of a young girl in trouble, and much-needed hope to the growing numbers who suffer from this shocking syndrome.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As he did in 1978's The Best Little Girl in the World, psychotherapist Levenkron tells a simple fictional tale to illustrate a real-world problem that afflicts millions of adolescent girls. The protagonist of The Best Little Girl suffered from anorexia. Here, 15-year-old Katie Roskova is a compulsive self-mutilator, or "cutter." Katie is beautiful, poised and highly intelligent. A successful competition figure skater with a scholarship to an exclusive prep school, she's driven by her own fear of failure and by her relentlessly ambitious mother. Behind Katie's winning stage smile lurks an anxiety that she can relieve only by cutting herself until she draws blood. Though Katie has practiced self-mutilation since she was 13, her problem has remained undetected. But now her mental health is quickly deteriorating, and alert school administrators detect a cry for help. Levenkron's prose and plot are simplistic, offering less complexity than a good YA novel. His story never aspires to be anything but an instrument for raising an issue. This Levenkron does ably, squarely confronting and clarifying a problem with a minimum of sentimentality. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Fifteen-year-old figure skater and private-school scholarship student Katie Roskova has no time for friends. Her self-sacrificing mother makes sure of that. In public, Katie wears a megawatt smile meant to fool everyone, but she hides a dark secret. Sometimes she "spaces out" and cuts herself, which seems to lower her stress. One day after repeatedly banging her head into the wall following a difficult skating session, Katie is whisked away to the hospital and ordered into therapy. Much as Katie resists the help of therapist Sandy Sherman, he becomes a source of hope. Psychotherapist Levenkron, who dealt with anorexia in The Best Little Girl in the World (1978), offers no neat, tidy ending, but Katie makes progress. Despite its resemblance to a YA "problem novel," this work offers psychological insights that run deep. Levenkron has taken a timely issue threatening many adolescents today and successfully created a sympathetic and suspenseful story.-Keddy Ann Outlaw, Harris Cty. P.L., Houston
Kirkus Reviews
Nearly 20 years after his exposé on anorexia, The Best Little Girl in the World (1978), Manhattan psychotherapist Levenkron tackles the subject of the self-mutilation syndrome, offering less of a novel than an awareness guide for troubled teenagers.

Katie Roskova, a 15-year-old figure-skating hopeful, has a grueling schedule of early morning and after-school practice, plus the pressure of maintaining high grades to retain her scholarship at a private school. Despite all the strain, though, Katie's an angel, pleasing all; in reality, of course, it's a ruse. To deal with the confusion and insecurity of teenage life, Katie maintains her calm facade at a grisly cost: She ritualistically cuts herself when she feels out of control. There are numerous passages here, unsettling in their quiet terror, describing the slow precision with which Katie takes a pair of sewing scissors to her arm until the cut is deep and bloody enough to satisfy her compulsive urge. Eventually, her arms are covered with scars, hidden by her long- sleeved shirts. This is compelling, even shocking, material, but Levenkron's approach is generally one-dimensional, making the narrative seem more case study than a work of fiction. Katie's background is predictable: Her mother is abusive and domineering, her father absent, and everyone drives her to succeed at all costs. When Katie is finally caught abusing herself (repeatedly slamming her locker door shut on her hand), she's sent to Sandy Sherman for therapy. The predictability is further reinforced when Sandy enters the picture—he creates a safe space within which Katie can confront her hostility toward her mother. The psychopathology of the illness, though, and the methods for treating it, will scarcely be new or surprising for many readers in our psycho-savvy age.

Undoubtedly helpful for anyone having to deal with the self- mutilation syndrome, but as fiction it sadly lacks deftness either in plotting or in character.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140266252
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/10/1998
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,496,182
Product dimensions:
5.03(w) x 7.73(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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