Runner Reads: “What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen”

This book is about a suicide, and so this post will discuss suicide. If you are suicidal or are in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

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“What Made Maddy Run” by Kate Fagan. 

I’ve seen this quote before, related to it, and when I was thinking about how to start this blog post, it seemed like a good way to do so — even though you learn in journalism never to start a story with a quote.

I looked up who to attribute the quote to, but unfortunately the closest thing I could find was an attribution for a similar quote to Ian McLaren.

However, I think one of the most interesting parts of the quote is the “that you know nothing about” — which isn’t in the McLaren quote. Someone can look happy on the outside and really be struggling on the inside.

And in Kate Fagan’s book “What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen,” the reader learns that one may not have noticed anything was wrong with Madison Holleran’s life if they only looked at her Instagram feed.

We all have struggles. Some can be harder to express or understand than others — such as mental health issues.

I had read Kate Fagan’s espnW article on Holleran’s death, titled “Split Image,” and I thought it was an extremely well-written, compelling article on an important topic. So, I was excited to later hear that Fagan had written a book surrounding the same topic, called “What Made Maddy Run.”

The reader learns in Fagan’s book (and article) that Holleran seemed to have it all together in high school — she was a star athlete with good grades and lots of friends. But when she got to college, she wasn’t having the amazing experience she thought she would — and she was particularly unhappy on the track team, but found it extremely difficult to leave.

Although nobody will ever know exactly what was in Holleran’s mind, Fagan presents an intriguing look into Holleran’s life and death.

The book weaves together Holleran’s story and experiences — using information from her computer, like text messages and emails, along with interviews with loved ones — plus Fagan’s own experiences as a college athlete and information and interviews about mental illness and suicide.

As a reader, you know what’s coming. It’s on the cover of the book — “death.” Although you want to stop her, there’s no way to stop Holleran from her actions, since her action was permanent. Although Holleran had let people know she was struggling, I don’t think they understood exactly how much.

But I hope this book will provide some insight…

  • To people who struggle with mental illness, you are not alone. Just because it seems like everyone else has it together doesn’t mean they do. People post the highlights of their lives on Instagram and other social media platforms — not the low points.
  • And for those who have been lucky enough to not suffer from mental illness, maybe it will provide insight into the struggles their peers may be facing.

And running should be fun! Running is an important and positive part of my life, so it always makes me sad when running is contributing to someone’s life negatively. I hope if running does so for you, you can find a way to move away from it and find something you truly enjoy.

Learn about The Madison Holleran Foundation here. 

Interested in buying “What Made Maddy Run” on Amazon? Find it here. 

Again, here is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Like She Runs by the Seashore on Facebook here.