Archive for the ‘Ekaterina Gordeeva’ Category

Inspired by the Olympics, I picked up my old copy of My Sergei: A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva (with E.M. Swift) when I was home last week.  I bought this book when I was eleven and, like many little girls, fascinated by figure skating.  By then, it was already clear that this was not the sport for me (I was 5’6” at that point and still growing) and while I knew my future lay with sports like volleyball and rowing that favour tall girls, I was still captivated by the beauty and artistry of figure skating.  That passion had been launched during the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games, the first Olympics I remember watching, when I had watched Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov skate their long program to Moonlight Sonata.  I fell in love with them and with their sport and so, when I found this book in 1997, there was never a question in my mind that I would read and love it.

This book, written by Gordeeva several years after Grinkov’s shocking death at the age of twenty-eight, seemed like the most romantic thing I had ever read.  Being only eleven, it probably was.  It’s a simple book with a very basic writing style, in which Gordeeva chronicles her life with Grinkov, from their pairing when she was eleven through their first successes, their evolving relationship, their marriage, the birth of their daughter and, finally, Grinkov’s sudden heart attack.  As both a figure skating fan and a budding romantic, it was the prefect book for me and, rereading it now, I still myself terribly fond of it.  It’s an incredibly quick read with many pictures but, even though I know the story well, I was still captivated by it.  It never drags: there was far too much going on during the years they were together for Gordeeva to dwell on any one thing.  It’s certainly not high literature and yes, it’s very sentimental, but it’s a very interesting read that more than fulfills my desire for books about figure skating. 

Perhaps the most memorable thing about My Sergei is not the book itself, but the influence it had on my life when I first read it.  Reading it during lunch one day (yes, I was one of those children, happier to sit in the library on the sunny steps reading rather than playing), my beloved school librarian approached me and asked if she could borrow it after I was done.  I was sharing books with an adult and not just any adult by my personal hero!  When she was finished, we spent several lunch hours discussing the book together and I remember being almost giddy with excitement.  These were the kind of discussions I had always wanted to have, but which none of my little friends were capable of contributing to – they barely even read the children’s or young adult’s books that were expected of them, never mind New York Times bestsellers.  After that, the librarian and I began to share more books, things from outside the school library.  She introduced me to Hemingway (who I’ve never been able to like), Agatha Christie (who I loved), and countless others.  It seems like so many librarians today are forced to focus on computer skills but I hope they still have the time to nurture young readers, like my young self, to guide them to the right books and to support them when they feel so distant and alien from their uncomprehending peers.  Eventually, I moved to an all-girls school that focused on academics, where I was able to thrive and where a passion for reading was almost the norm, but it was my librarian and not my friends who made my early years in elementary school palatable.   

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