So, here we go, biographies aren’t my thing. I pride myself on reading anything and everything but if I had to pick something that didn’t really do it for me, biographies are fairly close to the bottom of my list. I just find them a bit much. My favourite type of famous person is those that just don’t seem
like they give a fuck about the fame all that much and just genuinely seem like a person you want to know. I knew of Adam Rippon in the abstract, if someone said his name to me or I read it I would know he was a figure skater and gay, that was basically it. My middle child and eldest daughter however is a massive T Swift fan and avid youtube watcher. While watching the video for YNTCD she wanted to know who all the other people were so we would pause the video and I would say who they were. Some things required a bit of explaining because she is six and a six year old essentially specialises in asking questions. So we get to Adam in his cute little snow cone outfit and I say, that’s Adam Rippon, he’s a figure skater. She didn’t know what that meant so I brought up one of his skate videos to show her and then spent the next three days, THREE days, being pestered about watching figure skating, talking about skating, listening to her hints about how we should go skating (we live in
tiny town Australia, there is zero ice) and literally watching every competitive skating video youtube has. This lead me to following Adam on the ‘gram, discovering he had a book (convenient since I review them) and obviously The Great Non-Nut event. I don’t even eat almonds guys. More about
that at the end.
Fan girl moment over (mostly) and onto the review.
From literally the dedication on you just know the type of humour Adam has and it truly shines in his story. He has managed to perfectly walk the tight rope of self-deprecation so it doesn’t feel tired or over the top, just enough to keep you chuckling to yourself, at times outright laughing and ultimately continuing to turn the page. The opening sentence launches us into his skating career with his very first time on the ice and all the disappointment that came with the lack of muff and automatic skill at the age of five. The lack of muff is the crucial issue here. We progress through his pre school crying years, his rediscovery of ice skating and the initial kindling of that fire to succeed. For me, the real MVP in these foundation years was Mama Rippon. Her utter dedication to providing Adam with the access to skating is truly admirable. I myself have five children, I know how hectic my life is, driving the kids to their activities, school things and birthday parties that seem to be never fucking ending.
Not to mention just the day to day things required when you’re the head of a home. Washing does not do itself folks. I cannot even fathom what it would be like, or how I could cope, if one of my kids was competition level and required that much more. Mama Ripp, as I shall now call her, should be made a world treasure. I would say national, but I’m not American so that would be weird.
One thing that shines in this book amongst the humour, anecdotes and blatant self-appreciation he has is this undercurrent of understated acts. The first one for me is after Adam and Mama Ripp have a conversation where she basically tells him, if he is serious about skating with an Olympic goal, she
will be serious too. Adam gets up the next morning ready to be at the rink and is faced with the reality that MR has five other children that she must get fed, dressed, lunches made for and just generally ready for the day. Instead of sulking or pitching a fit, which I am sure many children at that
age (sixth grade I believe) would have done, Adam decides that it just won’t do and takes it upon himself to get his siblings up and day ready early. His mother loves it. His siblings love it. It becomes his routine, every morning. Even if his motivation for this sort of act was self-serving, I think it beautifully shows what kind of person he must be. When presented with an obstacle to his dream he didn’t sit on the sidelines of his own future, he found a way through it. A way which doesn’t step on
others but lets him have what he needs. It’s a thing that is basically glossed over but feels like a crucial part of his character. The second stand out for me comes a bit later in the story where he is told he has won third place at a competition only to find out there was a scoring issue and he is actually in fourth position. When being apologised to by the other competitor he handles it beautifully and tells his friend that really he was never third, fourth is his rightful rank based on the
points and it isn’t his friends fault in any way. It was wonderful to be third for ten minutes but really it is yours. Again, I think this shows what sort of person Adam is and reminding us you can be competitive and crave success, you can be sad for yourself, but be a supporter of others. This is reiterated throughout the entire book when Adam celebrates the successes of his friends, commiserates with them and how even though he wants to be the best, he accepts when there is better than him. This doesn’t take away from his drive to win, it doesn’t ever, not once, come across as a “poor me” trope and he never tears another person down. It is a genuine acceptance that while
he is going to absolutely push himself to succeed, he might not and its okay for that to suck but its not due to some advantage another skater has, its due to them just being better at that time. It is refreshing to read genuine subtle self-awareness that even he doesn’t seem to notice, in a book that
is riddled with the in your face kind (he is very pretty guys- get on board).
He is blatantly honest about his struggles- financially, interpersonally, emotionally. As much as I am
sure it sucked to be living off throat itch inducing apples, sad trail mix and having a negative bank balance it was good to read and further humanised him. You knew when he said he had a negative bank balance it was real, there wasn’t a cool 6 figures in his savings account hibernating and building
interest, he was genuinely broke. The growth from awkward child who was on the outskirts to young adult with friends was lovely. While there are people out there who meet their very best friend in first grade and stay that way forever, a lot of us don’t build those close friendships until we are older. The friends he made along the way are good ones and more valuable than anything as they stand by him.
There is a chapter essentially dedicated to his coming out (not in a professional capacity) and I loved how underwhelming it was. I personally feel, Adam, darling, that the writing was perhaps on the wall
from an early age (the ill fated love of the muff?) and his friends and family had the reaction of, basically, “cool story bro, needs more dragons.” The people that mattered to him already knew without him saying, this wasn’t so much of a big confessional moment as it was him visiting his loved ones and telling them the sky was blue. That is ALMOST how life should be. Ideally we shouldn’t
have to announce which way we swing or where we fall on the kinsey scale at all. We should live in a world where you just date whoever floats (or rather rocks ) your boat. I hope in the future my children never feel they have to announce their orientation and they can just bring whomever they’re interested in home and it will just be a non event entirely.
Even though I knew how this would end, with Adam achieving his goal of making the Olympic team, the book never felt dull or drawn out. I was fully invested in his story, I even went and watched a few
of his competition videos as they were mentioned with fresh eyes, now knowing events that had lead up to that day. Its amazing we can watch someone do something we literally have never attempted in our lives and be judgemental. “Oh he didn’t land that cleanly,” “Why can’t he consistently land a quad when others can?” and so on, having firstly, zero ability ourselves and secondly no knowledge of what is happening in their lives outside of those few minutes of time. One
moment in particular is when he fails on a jump, lands awkwardly and shakes it off to keep going. The first time I saw this video I honestly thought “yikes,” the second time I watched it, tonight, knowing he literally dislocated his goddamned shoulder and just, slides it back into place and keeps going. I wanted to hug him for pushing through and being amazing but simultaneously smack him for not getting it looked at immediately.
Adams writing style flows beautifully, he is genuinely funny while not being obnoxious, except when he is being obnoxious on purpose. I loved the growth of him as a person, his ability to over come his
inner Winnie Cooper and accept that the outcome of things sometimes just is what it is. This book lays out his career from the first touch of ice ’til he lands his last competition jump and if you didn’t applaud him and his tenacity the entire way through, frankly I don’t want that sort of negativity in my life. I want Mama Rippon to adopt me, I need a Derreck and an Ashley asap and I will always be thankful to not have to poop in front of another adult. Adam draws you in with his wit and dedication to his sport but he keeps you there with his kindness, intelligence and obviously, his pretty face. While this is called ‘Beautiful on the inside,’ I think after reading this you can, hand on heart say, he is just plain lovely from the soul out.
Okay, fellow nerds, let me end this by saying if you follow Adam on Instagram (you should) and watch his stories, you may want to cast your minds back to the other week when he mentioned someone told him almonds weren’t nuts. THAT WAS ME. I did that guys. I know it was me cause he also listed all the other non nuts I told him about. I have screenshot that interaction and may or may not (absolutely, definitely will) print and frame it. My moment in the sun guys.