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The Hard Parts

A Memoir of Courage and Triumph

Contributions by Cassidy Randall

About The Book

Oksana Masters, the United States’ most decorated winter Paralympic or Olympic athlete, tells her jaw-dropping story of triumphing over extraordinary Chernobyl disaster-caused physical challenges to create a life that, by example, challenges everyone to push through what is holding them back.

Oksana Masters was born in Ukraine—in the shadow of Chernobyl—seemingly with the world against her. She was born 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.

This is Oksana’s astonishing story of journeying through a series of dark tunnels—and how, with her mother’s love, she finally found her way into the light. Her message to anyone who doesn’t fit in: you can find a place where you excel—where you have worth.

About The Author

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Laureus

Oksana Masters was born in Ukraine in 1989 and faced numerous physical challenges due to utero radiation poisoning from Chernobyl. After living in three orphanages, Oksana was adopted at the age of seven. Over the course of seven years, she would have both legs amputated and endure a host of other surgeries. At age thirteen she began rowing and brought home the first of ten Paralympic medals in four different sports.  In 2020, she won the Lareus World Sports Award in the category of “Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.” She has been featured in such publications as Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, and the Players Tribune, and has appeared on numerous television programs, including Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. After the Beijing Paralympics in 2022, Oksana became the most decorated US Winter Paralympian or Olympian ever.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (February 21, 2023)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982185503

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Raves and Reviews

"Unexpectedly powerful...I couldn't put this memoir down. It's 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 

“Oksana has become a record-shattering champion in four sports by continually testing her limits. Like all the greats, she lives on the edge of fear and uses every setback she’s ever had to ask more of herself. A revealing parting of the curtain, THE HARD PARTS is a candid—and often poignant—account of the challenges Oksana overcame along the way to becoming the best ever, and it’s more inspiring than words could ever convey.”
—Mikaela Shiffrin, Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and four-time Overall World Cup Ski Champion

"Heart wrenching and extraordinary.  The Hard Parts is a remarkable memoir of coping with trauma, but it's mostly about courage and achieving the impossible.  I'm completely in awe of Oskana and her resilience—what an inspiration."
Ariana Neumann, New York Times bestselling author of When Time Stopped

“Gripping, powerful, and inspiring. As a fellow athlete, I appreciate the commitment and discipline it takes to succeed, but Oksana is on another level altogether. “ 
—Tony Hawk, 16-time X Game Medalist in skateboarding 

"Oksana Masters’ riveting journey of survival, perseverance, and triumph is much more than an uplifting sports story. From the darkness and despair of life in a Ukrainian orphanage to the top of the Paralympic medal podium, Masters has written a story for our times. She is a remarkable athlete. She is a heroic and trailblazing woman. She is an American treasure." 
—Christine Brennan, USA Today columnist, author of Best Seat in the House, and commentator for CNN, ABC News, and PBS NewsHour  

The Hard Parts takes us from heartache to courage, from crushing disabilities to exemplary talents, from hopelessness to sky-high aspiration. Here is a young woman who persists with a fierce, undeniable optimism, no matter how devastating the challenges she has faced. Add to this timely story Oksana’s beginnings within the tragic backdrop of a Ukrainian orphanage. A hero lives among us.” 
Diana Nyad, author of Find a Way, and the only person ever to swim 110 miles between Cuba and Florida 

"A book of rare quality...In these pages, not only does Oksana Masters triumph over tremendous odds but her victories are so multiple and her courage crosses so many different fronts that she forces us to rethink the term 'Greatest Ever.' Move aside GOATS and make a place for her." 
Sally Jenkins, sports columnist for the Washington Post, bestselling coauthor of Sum It Up, with Pat Summit, and It’s Not About the Bike, with Lance Armstrong 

“Oksana's story is emotionally pounding, from her Dickensian childhood in Ukraine's orphanages to promising her mother a gold medal in the Paralympics.  The Hard Parts is a street-fight for survival, then success.  And it stretches our own notions of just how much we can take.” 
Lesley Visser, Hall of Fame Sportscaster, first female television color analyst for the NFL, Voted #1 Female Sportscaster of All Time 

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