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Book Review: "Grace, Gold, and Glory" by Gabrielle Douglas

Updated on January 29, 2018

Gabrielle Douglas

When in the 2012 Olympics, Gabrielle Douglas made history and became the first African American woman and the first woman of African ethnicity of any country to ever win a gold medal in the individual and all-around competition, the fourth female gymnast from the United States to win gold, and the first U.S. gymnast in all of history to receive not only the team gold but also the individual all-around gold medal in a single Olympic games. The flag of the United States was raised as the national anthem played. This marvelous young woman was truly a great athlete and a heroine. She tells her story in her autobiography, Grace, Gold, and Glory.

Story of Faith

Gymnastics is usually thought of as a sport of wealthy and entitled people. However, despite that being the misnomer, that is not at all the background Gabrielle Douglas came from. Her mother came very close to dying when she gave birth to Gabrielle on December 31, 1995. She almost bled to death. When Gabrielle was still an infant her family went through a time when they were homeless and living in their car. While still in infancy, Gabrielle was dropping weight and eventually diagnosed with Branched Chain Ketoaciduria, which is a rare blood disorder occurring in infants who can't process particular kinds of proteins. The mother also believed she had whooping cough. They had no insurance and very little money. Being a spiritual person, the mother prayed for her infant and Gabrielle survived both illnesses.

Floor Routine 2012

The family eventually moved to Virginia Beach because her father was enlisted in the Virginia Air National Guard Reserves Unit. The mother worked full time and supported not just Gabrielle, but also her three siblings who were all older than Gabrielle. At first, when Gabrielle's sister told her mother she should sign her up for gymnastics classes she said that she did not have the money. She eventually gave in and signed up all her kids for recreational gymnastics. When the teachers saw how much raw talent Gabrielle had, they told the mother she should get her into training, which she did. Gabrielle really excelled and caught the notice of Marta Karoly, the team coordinator for U.S.A. gymnastics since 2001, who called her, "little one". At this point in time Gabrielle and her family lived in a small townhouse in a very rough area where they often heard gunshots and witnessed drug deals along with gang activities. It was in 2006, that her father was deployed for his second deployment for eight months in Iraq.

Uneven Bars London Games 2012

It was also then that her parents decided to split up for good. Gabrielle's father was not around most of her life as he was often stationed overseas where his deployment in Afghanistan ended in 2011. Yet, even the times he was home he never spent much time around her or her other siblings. It was not just the home life that Gabrielle struggled with. She experienced bullying at the gym she was training at.The gymnasts had to do chores before they started their training. This one gymnast was supposed to scrape excess chalk off the uneven bars when she said to one of the other girls, "Why don't we have Gabby do it? She is our slave." When Gabby looked over and saw her, she realized the the girl who called her a slave had a smirk on her face. Another gymnast told the one who called Gabby a slave not to make jokes like that and that it wasn't cool. Gabby was very hurt by this. Gabby would go to parties at the other gymnasts' houses. At one of these parties, a coach commented to her, "You need a nose job." Later on, the other gymnasts would say to her, "Your nose is so flat. How do you even breathe out of it?" She was really hurt by these comments and it affected her self esteem.

Gabrielle Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas eventually told her mother that she wanted to train with the same coach that Shawn Johnson had, Liang Chow. He lived in Des Moines, Iowa, which was across the country from where Gabrielle lived. So, after Liang Chow decided to take her on to train her, she left her family at sixteen and stayed with a host family in Des Moines, Iowa, to train with Liang Chow for two years prior to the 2012 Olympics. Seven months before the Olympics she came very close to quitting, yet decided not to. She was young and appeared to have been homesick and tired. And yet, she went on to become one of the most successful gymnasts in United States history.

Vault London Olympics 2012

The Book

What most impressed me about the book she wrote is how much she had to overcome and how much her family had to sacrifice in order for her to become an Olympian. She had to deal with racism, bullying, financial hardship, an absentee father, let alone just being a teenager. She overcame so many odds and obstacles to become one of the most successful gymnasts the United States has ever seen. She is a good role model for young girls because of her perserverance, her positive attitude, her patience, and her work ethic. This book is recommended book.

Gabrielle Douglas


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