What Made Maddy Run: A book Review


The life of Madison Holleran was a remarkable life in many ways. She was a star athlete in both track and in soccer. She was an ivy league university scholar.
She was a daughter, granddaughter, sister and friends. She also suffered and died as the result of depression. The book What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All American Teen by Kate Fagan is the story of her life, her death and the factors that every parent, friend, educator and coach should be made aware of as students enter college in a digital age.

Madison Holleran was a young woman who knew much success in her young life. She was both a star soccer and track athlete. She did well in school and friendships came easily to Maddy. If one were to study only her Instagram posts her first semester at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) it would be impossible to see that Maddy was slowly buckling under the pressure of running tracking, being away from home and living life as a “digital native” in college.

Kate Fagan, a writer for ESPNW and a college athlete herself takes a deep dive into times before and after Maddy’s only semester in college. She examines how mental health issues, athletic pressure and the all too often false image put forth on social media led to the devastating end of Madison’s life.

This book is important reading not just for the parents, teacher and coaches of athletes but for all students are transitioning to a new period of time in their lives.  When student who Kate Fagan calls “digital natives” compare their own lives to the lives their friends are posting on social media it is easy for them to feel like they are not measuring up.  All this while they are often presenting the same false narrative.  

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