...a powerful work that shows how many different people and organizations failed these women ... While the book is difficult to read at times owing to the details of sexual violence, it may be the most important sports title of the year. Pesta's in-depth reporting reveals the entire scope of Nassar's history, and the many who enabled his behavior. Highly recommended.
The reader will be horrified at not only the actions of Nassar, but also the verbally and physically abusive conduct of coach John Geddert, who, in effect, drove the girls into Nassar’s web, but also by a conspiracy of silence by so-called 'responsible adults' ... While many of the gymnasts gave statements at Nassar’s criminal sentencing, for some, The Girls offers them a first opportunity to speak. By doing so, they break out of the role of victim and transform themselves into the role of heroic survivors ... The Girls is their story of courage and Larry Nassar is now nothing more than a footnote.
This is a story of great evil eventually brought to justice ... Pesta’s empathy for these girls and women is palpable, and powerful. There are times when the book threatens to veer toward cliché (the 'triumph of the human spirit' is invoked), and I wish Pesta had spent more time probing Nassar’s own story (to explain how the monster was made) ... Where she’s able to go beyond newspaper accounts is in giving voice to the survivors’ stories. At its best, the book has the effect of a chorus of righteous anger, and some of the survivors’ words ring with a beautiful fury.