Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Review: Fast Girl

Steffensen's book, Fast Girl: Don't Brake Until You See the Face of God and Other Good Advice from the Racetrack, made me cackle madly wherever I was reading it. I even guffawed at a few points. She chronicles her first year of driving at closed circuit tracks in the Northeast of America, with a lot of life advice and memoir thrown in. But even that description doesn't quite cover how very fun this book is to read.

She states repeatedly that she wasn't looking to shake up her life; she was very happy with the way life had settled for her. Her husband, referenced through the book as Mr. B, was already a track regular when he convinced her to go. And go she did. She feel head over heels in love with the "flow"; reaching that zen place while driving.

Steffensen really breaks apart what the track is all about; the prep, the fashion do and don'ts (what ends up making the list is extremely amusing and unexpected), the maintenance of cars and what goes on behind the wheel of a car hurtling around a corner at speed almost three times a normal speed limit.

Lots of things end up surprising the author about the track, including what actually went on behind the scenes of the driver. "I suppose I'd always thought...that racecar driving was simply about macho aggression, and that all it took to go fast was more horsepower than the other guy and a heavier right foot...it's really the brain that gets the job done."

She also touches on her first cars, family history, her daughter (known as Miss M) and growing up in a tiny town in Pennsylvania, all the while maintaining a very down to earth demeanor that is evident on each and every page.

One of my favorite and final quotes from the book is toward the end:

"For me, learning how to run with the wolves has changed everything-and nothing. I still live in New Jersey... I put out my mixed recyclables on Thursdays...But sometimes, a few days a year, you'll find me with my helmet on and my stability control off, hurtling around the racetrack in search of that heady, elusive combination of abject terror and ferocious joy."

The reader gets to watch the author grow in ways that she didn't realize she needed to and in turn, come away realizing that life, pardon the overdone cliche, is truly about living and enjoying the living you do along the way.

But there are so many hilarious and poignant quotes, if I listed them all, there would be no need to check out the hysterical and honestly very touching memoir of this mom turned self proclaimed "Track Girl."

(Photo credit: Seal Press/I received a review copy of this book, but all opinions are my own.)

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