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About The Book

“A gut-wrenching, wildly inspiring story about overcoming the most daunting obstacles through steely tenacity, sheer will, and a great big dose of motherly love.” —Jeannette Walls, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle

An inspirational and powerful memoir from the United States’s most decorated winter Paralympic or Olympic athlete, The Hard Parts is Oksana Masters gripping account of overcoming extraordinary Chernobyl disaster–caused physical challenges to create a life that challenges everyone to push through what is holding them back.

Oksana Masters was born in Ukraine—in the shadow of Chernobyl—seemingly with the odds stacked against her. She came into the world with one kidney, a partial stomach, six toes on each foot, webbed fingers, no right bicep, and no thumbs. Her left leg was six inches shorter than her right, and she was missing both tibias.

Relinquished to the orphanage system by birth parents daunted by the staggering cost of what would be their child’s medical care, Oksana encountered numerous abuses, some horrifying. Salvation came at age seven when Gay Masters, an unmarried American professor who saw a photo of the little girl and became haunted by her eyes, waged a two-year war against stubborn adoption authorities to rescue Oksana from her circumstances.

In America, Oksana endured years of operations that included a double leg amputation. Still, how could she hope to fit in when there were so many things making her different?

As it turned out, she would do much more than fit in. Determined to prove herself and fueled by a drive to succeed that still smoldered from childhood, Oksana triumphed in not just one sport but four—winning against the world’s best in elite rowing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and road cycling competitions. Now considered one of the world’s top athletes, she is the recipient of seventeen Paralympic medals, the most of any US athlete of the Winter Games, Paralympic or Olympic.

Oksana’s astonishing story of journeying through a series of dark tunnels is “as true a tale of grit as I’ve ever heard, with a message filled with triumph and beauty—that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, if we are loved” (Angela Duckworth, New York Times bestselling author of Grit).

About The Author

Photograph by The Players' Tribune

Oksana Masters was born in Ukraine in 1989 and faced numerous physical challenges due to in utero radiation poisoning from Chernobyl. After living in three orphanages, she was adopted by an American mother at the age of seven. She is America’s most decorated Winter Paralympian—a winner of seventeen medals in four sports. In 2020, she won the Laureus World Sports Award in the category of “Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.” Her story has appeared in numerous media outlets—from Sports Illustrated to The New York Times to the Players’ Tribune—and she has participated in high fashion shoots for cosmetic and clothing lines created by such stars as Rihanna and Kim Kardashian.

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (February 21, 2023)
  • Runtime: 10 hours and 57 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797150130

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Awards and Honors

  • ALA Alex Award

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More books from this reader: Emily Tremaine