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McCormick, Patricia 1956–

McCormick, Patricia 1956–


Born May 23, 1956, in Washington, DC; daughter of A.J. and Ann McCormick; married Paul W. Critchlow (a public-relations specialist), September 11, 1988; children: Meaghan, Matt. Education: Rosemont College, B.S., 1978; Columbia University, M.S., 1985; New School for Social Research (now New School University), M.F.A., 1999.


Home and office—New York, NY. E-mail—


Journalist and novelist. New Brunswick (NJ) I Home News, crime reporter; New York Times children's movie reviewer; Parents magazine, children's movie reviewer; freelance writer. Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, former adjunct professor; New School University, former instructor of creative writing. The Writers Room, New York, NY, board member.


Authors Guild, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Awards, Honors

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age designation, 2000, Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, American Library Association (ALA), 2001, and Best Book for Young Adults, ALA, 2002, all for Cut; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age designation, 2004, for My Brother's Keeper; New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellowship; National Book Award finalist in Young People's Literature, National Book Foundation, ALA Best Book of the Year designation, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best listee, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age designation, Children's Literature Council Choice designation, and Booklist Top-Ten Women's History Books for Youth designation, all 2006, all for Sold.



Cut, Front Street Books (New York, NY), 2000.

My Brother's Keeper, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.

Sold, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2006.


(With Steven Cohen) Parents' Guide to the Best Family Videos, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Ladies' Home Journal, Town & Country, Reader's Digest, More, Mademoiselle, New York Times Book Review, and New York Times. Former contributing editor to Parents magazine.


Cut, My Brother's Keeper, and Sold were adapted as audiobooks by Listening Library.


In 2000 Patricia McCormick made her entrance into children's literature with her young-adult novel Cut. The combination of a New York Times Magazine article about young women cutting themselves and the stress then present in her own life sparked in McCormick the idea for a novel about a fifteen-year-old girl in a residential treatment facility who is kept there because she cuts herself in response to the pressures she feels at home. "I kept the article for months, then I finally threw it away," McCormick told Elizabeth Devereaux in Publishers Weekly. The author continues her focus on young teens in the novels My Brother's Keeper and Sold, the latter a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature.

McCormick wrote Cut while working toward her M.F.A. at the New School for Social Research in New York City. "I found myself writing in the voice of a girl, addressing her shrink in a loony bin," the author explained to Devereaux. During the writing process, McCormick resisted the urge to over-research and smother the story and her central character in details. Callie, the protagonist of Cut, has chosen to be mute, except to the reader, who is privy to her memories of her family: a severely asthmatic brother, a distracted mother, and a non-coping father. During the course of Callie's narrative, the reader also follows the sequence of events that led to the teen's need to cut herself in order to maintain some semblance of control over her life.

Reviewers found much to praise in Cut, particularly its verisimilitude. Writing in School Library Journal, Gail Richmond described the novel as "poignant and compelling reading" that avoids pathos and stereotypes." According to a Publishers Weekly critic, McCormick does not sensationalize her story, instead presenting a "persuasive view of the teenage experience." "A too-tidy ending notwithstanding, this is an exceptional character study of a young woman," noted Booklist reviewer Frances Bradburn. Horn Book contributor Lauren Adams also found the story's resolution—and Callie's father's sudden understanding of his daughter's situation—somewhat unrealistic, but nonetheless praised McCormick's "sensitive portrayal of a young girl's illness and her difficult path to recovery." "I'd never understood cutting before I read Cut," wrote Elizabeth Crow in her review of the book for the New York Times Book Review. "The story of how Callie and some of the others begin to get well demystifies mental illness, but doesn't oversimplify or sentimentalize it," Crow added. "To McCormick's credit, we care—about the girls and about their clumsy, frightened parents."

"We all do self-destructive or at least self-defeating things—usually at the very times when we need to take

the best care of ourselves," McCormick once told SATA in discussing her first novel. "Most times, the actions are relatively harmless: locking ourselves out of the house, forgetting an assignment, overdosing on Ben & Jerry's. They hurt us more than they hurt anyone else.

"The challenge in writing Callie's story was to make her experience authentic—to render it as truthfully as I knew how—without rendering her actions in a way that would frighten or offend readers. I hope I've done that. I hope that I've approached her story with empathy and integrity."

Addressing an issue of international scope, Sold highlights the sex trade in the villages of India and Nepal through the story of Nepalese teen Lakshmi. To research the novel, McCormick traveled to Kathmandu and interviewed girls, women, and men regarding the system whereby thousands of young women are sold to brothels by family members every year. She tells her story in free verse, which "allowed me to deal with the horror in carefully controlled language," the author explained to Booklist interviewer Hazel Rochman. In Sold McCormick's thirteen-year-old heroine is a member of a poor farming family in rural Nepal until her stepfather sells her to a Calcutta brothel called Happiness House in order to make good on a gambling debt. Abused by the brothel's madame, Mumtaz, until she submits to male clients, and living in squalid conditions, Lakshmi narrates her experiences as well as the ironies between her life as a prisoner and the outside world she and her fellow prostitutes see only through television. Noting that McCormick avoids sensationalizing her horrific subject, Rochman praised the author's "beautiful clear prose" and ability to "remain … true to the child's viewpoint." Sold "is an important story," concluded Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser, "and McCormick tells it well." Calling the novel "searing" in her Horn Book review, Christine M. Hepperman predicted that "readers will admire Lakshmi's bravery" and cheer as the intervention of American rescuers lifts Sold from the realm of tragedy.

McCormick focuses on a male protagonist in My Brother's Keeper, which finds baseball fan and high school freshman Toby Malone dealing with his father's abandonment, his distracted mother's love life, and older brother Jake's growing drug-abuse problem. As Toby attempts to keep things from falling further apart by covering for Jake, he also tries to shelter his impressionable younger brother Eli, who is becoming increasingly withdrawn. Toby's first-person narration in My Brother's Keeper is "clever and believable," according to Booklist contributor Holly Koelling, the critic calling the novel's teen protagonist "a responsible, caring, and appealing kid." "One of the best things in the book is the way McCormick captures Toby's isolation, sadness, [and] desperation," noted Lois Metzger in a review of the book for the New York Times Book Review, and a Publishers Weekly writer asserted that the storyline "credibly … demonstrates why playing the role of enabler ultimately does more harm than good." "McCormick has tackled a tough subject in language teens can grasp," contended Diana Pierce in School Library Journal, the critic adding that My Brother's Keeper is "written in a realistic and engaging manner and is a good discussion starter."

"When I read stories, I see, or hope to see, aspects of my life reflected in them," McCormick noted to SATA. "I'm always looking for answers in the books I read; if not answers, at least somebody who has the same question. I hope a book of mine will be that kind of book for some reader."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, January 1, 2001, Frances Bradburn, review of Cut, p. 940; March 15, 2002, review of Cut, p. 1228; June 1, 2005, Holly Koelling, review of My Brother's Keeper, p. 1786; September 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, "Daughters for Sale" and review of Sold, p. 54.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 2001, review of Cut, p. 188; July-August, 2005, review of My Brother's Keeper, p. 501; December, 2006, Karen Coats, review of Sold, p. 181.

Horn Book, November, 2000, Lauren Adams, review of Cut, p. 759; September-October, 2006, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Sold, p. 591.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2005, review of My Brother's Keeper, p. 640; September 1, 2006, review of Sold, p. 908.

Kliatt, May, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Cut, p. 20; September, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of Sold, p. 15.

New York Times Book Review, November 19, 2000, Elizabeth Crow, "Sounds of Silence," p. 38; October 23, 2005, Lois Metzger, review of My Brother's Keeper, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, October 23, 2000, review of Cut, p. 76; December 18, 2000, Elizabeth Devereaux, "Patricia McCormick," p. 26; August 28, 2006, review of Sold, p. 55.

School Library Journal, December, 2000, Gail Richmond, review of Cut, p. 146; July 11, 2005, review of My Brother's Keeper, p. 93; August, 2005, Diana Pierce, review of My Brother's Keeper, p. 131; September, 2006, Alexa Sandmann, review of Sold, p. 211; April, 2007, review of Sold, p. 65.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2001, review of Cut, p. 425; February, 2002, review of Cut, p. 409; June, 2005, Rollie Welch, review of My Brother's Keeper, p. 134; December, 2006, Vikki Terrile, review of Sold, p. 428.


Front Street Books Web site, (February 1, 2002), "Patricia McCormick."

Patricia McCormick Home Page, (July 25, 2007).

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McCormick, Patricia

Patricia McCormick


American diver

Women divers gained popularity in the years before World War I, as much for their attractiveness as for their skill. Until Pat McCormick entered the scene in the late 1940s, displaying remarkable agility and toughness, no one dominated the sport. The first and only woman diver to win two gold medals in two consecutive Olympic Games (the double-double), McCormick earned the prestigious Sullivan Award in 1956 as the nation's top amateur athlete and became the first woman diver inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She belongs among the greatest names in Olympic history.

Raised Around Water

Pat McCormick was born Patricia Keller in Seal Beach, California, on May 12, 1930. Living above a grocery store and with little money in the family, she and her two older brothers were raised mostly by their mother, a nurse. Her alcoholic father was a sporadic presence in her life, although his belief in her was an important influence. In a 1999 interview with Dr. Margaret Costa for the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, McCormick described her early years: "I worked to help support the family from the time I was 10 years old. My brother was responsible for my involvement in athletics because I wanted to be just like him. We were good little urchins who had a lot of fun."

McCormick spent most of her spare hours swimming around the channels and the harbor and hanging out at Muscle Beach, where she enjoyed being tossed around by the brawny, acrobatic men. This pastime helped her develop strength and flexibility. Her love of competition prompted her to participate in small swim meets against anyone willing to race her. In her first meet, a two-mile pier-to-pier swim, she came in second. (There was only one other girl in the race.) But the trophy she received stoked her desire for more. At fourteen, she won the Long Beach city women's one-meter diving gold cup. A coach from the Los Angeles Athletic Club soon took notice and invited her to join the Club to begin rigorous training.

The training did little to interfere with her academics or social life at Wilson High School, but she was allowed to miss her last class period to take the trolley to Los Angeles. The 5'4", 125 pound diver trained for a year before entering local competitions. She went on to place second in the 1947 National Platform Championship. Her brother borrowed money so she could attend the 1948 Olympic tryouts, where she missed making the team by less than a point.

Determined to Succeed

Robert Condon, in his book Great Women Athletes of the 20th Century, quoted McCormick as saying, "That defeat was the greatest thing that ever happened to me because all of a sudden I knew I could win the Olympics I realized that at Los Angeles I was working with world-class athletes every day."

She married Glenn McCormick in 1949 and started competing under her married name. Glenn, an airline pilot and aspiring Olympic diver, later became her coach. McCormick's training regimen consisted of 80 to 100 dives a day, six days a week. She persevered despite various injuriesa gash on her head requiring fifty stitches, chipped teeth, welts, a loose jaw, and a cracked rib.

The hard work quickly paid off. That same year, she won the National Platform Championship. She did it again in 1950, adding the one-meter and three-meter springboard titles. She won all five national titles in 1951. In all, she won twenty-seven national titles. She also won three gold medals in two appearances at the Pan Am Games.

The Double-Double

McCormick's biggest splash came as an Olympian. At the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, she swept both events, the platform and the springboard. She repeated those gold medal-winning performances at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, even though she was competing just months after giving birth to her son. It wasn't until 1988 that a man, Greg Louganis , was able to replicate McCormick's double-double.

Her Olympic success led to a long list of honors, including the Babe Zaharias Trophy, the Associated Press and the United Press International's Woman Athlete of the Year, Sports Illustrated 's Athlete of the Year, and the Helms Hall of Fame North American Athlete of the Year.

McCormick's daughter Kelly also became a diver. Kelly won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics and a bronze in 1988, making the McCormicks the only mother-daughter duo in Olympic history to become medal winners.

Sharing the Olympic Spirit

McCormick's persistence paid off while combating another opponent: life after the Olympics. In a profile issued by the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in 1996, McCormick recalled the empty feeling that can hit athletes once Olympic glory fades: "You see, all our lives we have had someone to tell us what to do, how to do it. Then, your whole life dissolves into that one moment. When you step up on that victory stand, you're going to be deserted. All the support systems you had are going after their next project. They can't tell you how to handle success, they can only tell you how to achieve it. The trick is to stay on that victory stand."

Realizing the need for an education, McCormick enrolled at Long Beach City College in the 1960s, graduating thirteen years later. During an interview with Dr. Margaret Costa for the Amateur Athletic Association of Los Angeles, she explained the reason for her life-long motivation and self-discipline: "Not having the skills to do something I want to do has been the story of my life. Whether it was college or diving or being a parent, I have had to develop my own skills and knowledge on my own in order to be successful."


1930 Born May 12 in Seal Beach, California
1948 Misses qualifying for the Olympics by less than a point
1949 Marries Glenn McCormick
1950 Wins the first of 27 national diving titles
1956 Gives birth to son Timmy
1956 Becomes the first and only woman diver to win four gold medals in two consecutive Olympic Games
1960 Gives birth to daughter Kelly
1974 Ends marriage to Glenn McCormick
1984 One of nine athletes selected to carry the Olympic flag in the Opening Ceremonies of the 1984 Games
1984 Begins motivational speaking

Awards and Accomplishments

1950 Won the first of 27 national diving titles
1951 Gold medal at the Pan Am Games
1952 Two gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland
1955 Two gold medals at the Pan Am Games
1956 Two gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia
1956 Amateur Athletic Union's James E. Sullivan Memorial Trophy as amateur athlete of the year
1956 Babe Zaharias Trophy
1956 Helms Hall of Fame North American Athlete of the Year
1956 Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year
1956 Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year
1956 United Press International's Woman Athlete of the Year
1984 Inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame
1985 Inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
1987 Inducted into the Orange County (California) Sports Hall of Fame
1996 Inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame

McCormick still enjoys an active sports life, especially horse riding, scuba diving, golfing, body surfing, and skiing. She has since focused her optimism and resolve on another arenahelping others realize their dream. This generosity of spirit, flowing from her extensive charity work and motivational speaking, is her way of remaining on the victory stand.



Condon, Robert J. Great Women Athletes of the 20th Century. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1991.


Day, Mary. "McCormick Did It Before Louganis." Los Angeles Times [San Diego County Edition] (October 22, 1988): 3.

Hicks, Jerry. "McCormick Has the Gold-Medal Touch as a Speaker Too." Los Angeles Times [Orange County Edition] (September 19, 1996): 1.

Stump, Al. "Fancy Diving Only Looks Like Fun." Saturday Evening Post (May 19, 1951): 27.

Weyler, John. "Orange County Sports Hall of Fame: The New Inductees; McCormick Took Plunge to Reach Dreams, Springboard to Success Starts With Failures." Los Angeles Times [Orange County Edition] (February 14, 1987): 1.


"Hall of Fame." Women's Sports Foundation. (December 4, 2002).

"ISHOF Honorees." International Swimming Hall of Fame. (January 7, 2003).

"An Olympian's Oral History: Pat McCormick." The Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles. (January 3, 2002).

"Olympic Medal Winners." International Olympic Committee-Athletes. (January 7, 2003).

"Pat McCormick." (January 3, 2003).

"Pat McCormick." World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. (January 3, 2003).

"Pat McCormick, Olympic Diver." History's WomenAn Online Magazine. (January 8, 2003).

"Patricia McCormick." International Olympic CommitteeAthletes. (January 7, 2003).

"The Sullivan Award." (January 7, 2003).

"U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame." (January 7, 2003).

Sketch by Carole Manny

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