Have you heard of the Tessa Duder “Alex” books? I was reminded of them this week whilst watching the swimming in the Olympics. There’s something ferociously pure about swimming, and indeed most sport. It all boils down to you; what you do, when you do it and how you do it.
The life of a professional athlete remains an awe-inducing mystery to me and it’s one that I’ve not read much about in literature. Obviously with the Olympics going on, we’ve seen certain adult titles such as Gold come to the forefront of the booksehelves but I’m not sure that there’s been an equivalent trend in children’s literature. I’m not sure whether children’s literature is an externally trend-driven genre but that’s a discussion for another time.
So here’s my recommendation if you’d like to read about professional sportsmen and women from a YA angle. The Alex books are a series of four books written by Tessa Duder (and here’s her Goodreads author page with details of them all).
These books are powerful books. Powerful, powerful, harsh, spikey, empathic books. Alex Archer is a swimmer. She’s world-class. And she’s a professional.
The other thing is that Alex isn’t run of the mill. She’s furiously independent and defies boundaries. She does everything she can do to the utmost of her abilities and she’s brilliant, boldly and foolishly so, but always real.
I love these books. They don’t skimp on the hard detail; on the red-rimmed eyes a saltwater pool gives you, and the way your muscles burn as you drag yourself to the pool again at five am on a winters morning. They don’t sugarcoat anything and so, as you go along the series, you learn to love this obstreperous, furious, woman who doesn’t quite believe she’s as good as she is.
If you’ve been inspired, or enthralled by the swimming, or indeed any of the other awe-inducing activities and achievements going on at the Olympics, I wholly recommend making a space for these books on your TBR pile. You won’t regret it.