Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Review: As Fast As Her by Kendall Coyne

I went to a hockey college. So, maybe that's why today's review caught my attention. It might also have to due with the fact that it's hard to find autobiographies for the upper middle grade/ young adult audiences, which center around sports. Now, I often grab up autobiographies and biographies for younger readers with hesitation because so many are actually written as adults talking down to these audiences. This one managed to steer clear of that.

How I wish I had that horn to start this post! 

Dream Big, Break Barriers, Achieve Success
by Kendall Coyne 
with Estelle Laure
YA Autobiography
240 pages

In this inspiring book, US Olympian and hockey star Kendall Coyne shares the grit and determination it took to break down barriers and achieve her dreams against tremendous odds, encouraging young people to follow their passions and never give up.

The world told Kendall Coyne to slow down. They said “not so fast” when she picked up hockey skates instead of figure skates. They said “just a minute” when she tried out for the boy's team. They told her “you're not enough” so often that she started to believe it. But Kendall had a passion and a dream, so instead of slowing down, she sped up, going on to win Olympic gold and a place at the NHL’s All-Star weekend.

As Fast as Her explores how Kendall held on to her dream, overcame her insecurities and naysayers, and pushed herself past barriers to achieve her goals—and how you can too! Inside, Kendall shares:

stories that illustrate the lessons she's learned and how to apply them for success
encouragement to help young people know they are good enough—to fit in, to find their “why,” and to create lasting change for others
her personal trials and triumphs, inspiring readers to discover what excites and exhausts them—and help them to be as relentless in achieving their own goals
behind-the-scenes and personal photos in a full-color 8-page insert.



Sport books are always big among the younger readers I know. Unfortunately, autobiographies often talk-down to readers or are not really intended for them. This one didn't fall into that trap, but is written in a way upper middle graders will easily understand and connect with.

Written in first person, it has the atmosphere as if Kendall is actually sitting there and speaking with the reader. It carries a younger voice (as if she were in her lower teens) and hits upon many details, which the age group would find important, and not as if it were an adult, trying to convince kids what they are saying is interesting. Especially the back and forth with her brother brings a familiarity, which makes her more natural and real.

The book is broken down into short chapters, each one carrying a specific theme. These themes are thoughts and bits of wisdom, intended to give words of wisdom, encouragement, and advice to kids, hoping to achieve their own goals. There's a short chapter title, which is immediately followed by a quick phrase of what topic is going to be addressed, for example, 'Everything happens for a reason'. The chapter then tells of Kendall's experiences (real life) where she learned this lesson herself. There is also a 'Golden Coyne' in each chapter (illustrated with half a shiny 'coin' on the one side of the page), which gives food for thought.

I was surprised how down-to-earth this is written. It's interesting and uses experiences, which readers might recognize or, at least, will be able to picture and understand. It never talks down or sounds aloof. The vocabulary is just right for the age group, and even those who aren't overly familiar with hockey will have no trouble understanding every scene. There are colored photos in the center of the book, which add a nice touch and let the reader get to know Kendall even better.

This is a well-done read about how a woman's support, determination, and hard work brought her further than she thought was possible, and opened doors in life she would have never seen coming, otherwise. Not only hockey fans will enjoy this one.

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