By Alex Chambers, May 8, 2014.
In her new memoir In My Skin: My Life On and Off the Basketball Court, Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner delivers her story in a straight-forward and down-to-earth matter. She shares experiences not as they happened, but as they related to each other, moving freely back and forth on the timeline of her life.
The style almost gives the reader the feeling of having a casual conversation with the author, which makes it feel all the more authentic.
Indeed, Griner knows the value of authenticity, as she reflected in her book, “I’ve learned, through a lot of trial and error, that the rewards of being authentic far outweigh the risks.”
When Griner says “trial and error,” she isn’t kidding. In My Skin tells how her life has been a series of ups and downs, including struggling with behavior challenges in school, her relationship with her father and discovering her identity.
Yet, while Griner shares her struggles, she throws in humorous anecdotes (like the last time in high school that she had to wear a dress), giving the impression that she sometimes faced her toughest challenges with a grin. The reader gets a clear idea of her voice and personality, which is one of the most appealing qualities about this book.
Along with stories that Griner has talked about in the media, In My Skin contains details that have gone unmentioned.
Her casual coming out during her well-known Sports Illustrated interview wasn’t actually supposed to happen that way. The tension that led up to the infamous punch of Jordan Barncastle actually started well before the game. The calm, cool exterior many witnessed as she made the game winning shot against the LA Sparks in the third game of the Western Conference semi-finals didn’t exactly match how she was feeling inside.
Griner reminds the reader that what they saw was a moment in time, but that what led up to and followed those events paints a very different picture.
The most prevalent theme that Griner touches upon is her coming out story. From telling her mom, to being confronted by her dad, through her years at Baylor keeping it “behind closed doors” as her coach often reminded her to do, she shares a vivid journey of discovery.
Like many LGBT youth, Griner had the common experience of having a crush on a childhood friend, being bullied in school and the constant internal struggle of figuring out how to be comfortable being herself. It didn’t make it easier when, much like her tattoos, Griner was expected to cover up her sexuality for her years at Baylor. Griner’s coming out story is one that will surely resonate with anyone who’s been though the struggles of self-discovery.
In My Skin is revealing, touching and at times a raw reflection of a woman who fought through a great deal of adversity to achieve success. Using a combination of life reflections, clever asides (like her love for Skittles) and some very personal details, Griner crafts a notable memoir that is anything but predictable.
After reading this book, there is no doubt that you’ll know Brittney Griner, inside and out.