A superstar and her darkest hour : '' Coming Home '' By Brittney Griner with Michael Burford.

If you weren't following women's basketball, you probably hadn't heard of Brittney Griner when she was arrested at a Moscow-area airport in February 2022.

But she was a bona fide superstar - an Olympic gold medallist, a W.N.B.A. All-Star and the linchpin of her team, the Phoenix Mercury.

When she was detained, she was traveling to her $1 million off-season job with UMMC Yekaterinburg, a top team in the wildly popular Russian women's basketball league where she had played for seven years, in part to supplement her $220,000 salary with the Mercury.

Her crime : possessing 0.7 grams of medicinal marijuana oil - legally prescribed in the United States - that she had forgotten to remove from her bag.

'' Fear is one thing, Griner writes in '' Coming Home,'' her new memoir, describing the stomach-curdling moment when an inspector seized her passport and told her to wait.

'' But uncertainty, the unknown, a free-fall into mystery - that's much stronger than fear; it's terror.''

At first, Griner thought she would be fined and sentenced to house arrest. But possession of even a small amount of drugs is a serious offense in Russia, and she was eventually charged with narcotics smuggling.

Days later, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Griner found herself a high-profile pawn in a vicious geopolitical battle.

'' Coming Home '' is a visceral, harrowing account of what it's like to be trapped inside Russia's infamous criminal justice system, with its merciless judges and vast-labor camps.

It's also the harrowing-in-a-different way story of what it's like to grow up Black, female, gay and startlingly tall in Texas. Griner's mother, Sandra, is loving and religious ; her father, Raymond, is a Vietnam War veteran and a traffic cop.

Racism has always shadowed the family. As she grew [ and grew and grew ], people teased Griner for height, her deep voice and her flat chest :

 ''  When you're born in a body like mine, a part of you dies every day, with every mean comment and lingering stare,'' she writes. '' You're the biggest person in the room, but you're also the loneliest.''

The World Students Society thanks review author Sarah Lyall.


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