Review: In the Water They Can’t See You Cry
Amanda Beard is the youngest of three girls and was so full of energy and had such a need for perfection as a young child, her parents enrolled her in all kinds of activities just to keep her busy. Since both of her older sisters were on a swim team, Amanda longed to be as well and her parents allowed her to as soon as she was old enough. She excelled and before she knew it, was winning every race she entered. Sensing she was getting bored, Amanda’s parents allowed her to move up to a more difficult league. This was a whole new level of competition, but with her determination, Amanda quickly caught up to the other swimmers. She started winning regularly and swam in her first Olympics at the age of fourteen, winning a silver medal.
Things weren’t that easy in Amanda’s personal life, though. She suffered from a learning disability so school was tough. Her parent’s divorce was difficult for her. She struggled with poor self image and resorted to self-destructive behavior like cutting and purging. She seemed to become involved in one unhealthy relationship after another.
After swimming on a college team for a few years, Amanda became a professional swimmer and started getting quite a few modeling jobs. It was on one of those jobs that she met the man who would help her get her life in order and eventually become her husband.
I was interested in reading In The Water They Don’t See You Cry, by Amanda Beard, because I love memoirs and I couldn’t imagine what a beautiful, world-class athlete would have to cry about. It seems that there was plenty. The public saw a poised, polished image even as Amanda struggled with many demons and found herself in unhealthy relationships.
I felt for Amanda as she struggled with her internal demons, but really expected to learn more about her swimming and Olympic competitions – this book is really about her personal life and the poor choices she made through the years. There were times I felt she went into too much detail about some things – it made me question whether she’s really lived enough to warrant a memoir, if you know what I mean. It became harder and harder to empathize with her when she kept repeating the same mistakes. It really bothered me that she felt that she needed a man in her life and looked for one to save her. I know that sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book, but I did – I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it. I think maybe young women who are struggling with the same issues Amanda has will get even more out of this book than I did.
I listened to the audio version of In the Water They Can’t See You Cry and read from the print version (which includes photos) at times. Tavia Gilbert narrates the audio version and she does a great job – her narration enhanced the book for me. This is the second book narrated by Gilbert that I’ve listened to and will definitely be looking for more of her work.