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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Laura Cottam Sajbel’s novel, Buoyant, subtitled How Water and Willpower Helped Wella to Channel Aaron and Hayley Peirsol, is an inspiring story about a mother who discovered the healing powers of exercise and in the process, raised two champion swimmers. This is Wella Hartig’s life story and it tells the story of an ordinary woman who raised extraordinary athletes, with Aaron winning seven Olympic medals and Harley placing third in world distance swimming. Married young and eventually ending up as a single mother of two, Wella certainly has her share of failures and heartbreaks. This does not stop her from dreaming big for her children. The emotional and financial strain of keeping Aaron and Harley on top of their fields could stop any mother’s resolve but for Wella, it is more than just winning those competitions - it is about facing life’s failures and successes squarely and with dignity.
There must be a number of parents out there who dream of raising world class athletes out of their children. Buoyant is a book that they should read. Faced with less that ideal circumstances, Wella Hartig succeeded in guiding her children to become the best in their chosen field of sports. Her story also reinforces the theory that exercise is good for our mental health. There is no doubt that genetics and environment determine a person’s life but still, each one of us has the capacity to determine the direction of our own lives. And here lies the greatest lesson from Wella Hartig’s life story. It is also heartening to note that it is more important for Wella that her children grow up as happy and decent human beings - with or without the numerous swimming medals that they earned in the course of their swimming careers. This makes Buoyant a must-read for everyone!