Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Staff Picks: The Hard Parts: A Memoir of Courage and Triumph by Oksana Masters

If you don't know who Oksana Masters is, you will want to. This is a biography of Oksana Masters who was adopted by a single mother in America from a Ukrainian orphanage. Her birth mother had been exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster while carrying her. Oksana had multiple issues resulting from this, including legs of differing lengths as a result of a lack of weight-bearing bones, feet with six toes, webbed fingers with no thumbs, and missing her right bicep and one kidney. After deciding to adopt Oksana, it took several years of diplomatic issues, bureaucratic red tape, and the requisite bribery, but she finally had her very first home at the age of seven years old. Despite these repeated setbacks, neither of them gave up.

Their early years together were challenging as they learned to communicate with one another, acclimating to America, and the usual growing pains of children. In between everything, both of her legs were amputated above the knee. There were more than just her physical challenges to overcome from her years in the orphanage. Beyond therapy, Oksana was introduced to rowing where she could learn to accept her body's limitations yet learn what it could do despite them. Paralympic sports became her goal, and she persisted time and again. She went on to win world championships and Paralympic medals for Team USA–not just in rowing but in cycling and Para Nordic Skiing! For reference, Para Nordic Skiing encompasses both biathlon and cross-country skiing.

What an incredible story of perseverance!

Joan Dudzinski
Post Road Library

No comments: