by Clara Hughes
Simon and Schuster Canada
Buy from Indigo
Description: In 2006, when Clara Hughes stepped onto the Olympic podium in Torino, Italy, she became the first and only athlete ever to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games. Four years later, she was proud to carry the Canadian flag at the head of the Canadian team as they participated in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. But there’s another story behind her celebrated career as an athlete, behind her signature billboard smile.
While most professional athletes devote their entire lives to training, Clara spent her teenage years using drugs and drinking to escape the stifling home life her alcoholic father had created in Elmwood, Winnipeg. She was headed nowhere fast when, at sixteen, she watched transfixed in her living room as gold medal speed skater Gaétan Boucher effortlessly raced in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Dreaming of one day competing herself, Clara channeled her anger, frustration, and raw ambition into the endurance sports of speed skating and cycling. By 2010, she had become a six-time Olympic champion.
But after more than a decade in the grueling world of professional sports that stripped away her confidence and bruised her body, Clara began to realize that her physical extremes, her emotional setbacks, and her partying habits were masking a severe depression. After winning bronze in the last speed skating race of her career, she decided to retire, determined to repair herself. She has emerged as one of our most committed humanitarians, advocating for a variety of social causes both in Canada and around the world. In 2010, she became national spokesperson for Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk campaign in support of mental health awareness, using her Olympic standing to share the positive message of the power of forgiveness.
Told with honesty and passion, Open Heart, Open Mind is Clara’s personal journey through physical and mental pain to a life where love and understanding can thrive. This revelatory and inspiring story will touch the hearts of readers everywhere
The Good Stuff
- Even though her life has been tough at times, there is no self pity or blame
- Fascinating background in the day to day training involved in a competitive athletes life
- Likeable, honest writing. Feels like you are listening to a friend tell a story
- Admire her for what she has accomplished with her life, especially her work with Right to Play and Bell Canada Lets Talks
- Found it interesting what goes on during the Olympics
- Speaks very openly about addiction and mental illness
- Loved her Dad even though he was a very troubled man. She makes you feel the good in him, despite his demons
- Honestly I was fascinated by the training and the ins and outs of competitive sports. The incredible drive and determination is awe inspiring (ok, also remember I am a Librarian and a nerd, so sports is sooo not my thing)
- Interesting to learn about the pressure to dope and all about the different methods
- I have always been less than understanding about the importance of sport and she really made me how much sport can inspire and help someone (Ok most of my negativity comes from being shit at sports and made fun of by jocks, I still remember being insulted in high school by a girl named Christine about my lack of athleticism - I'm 45 and I still remember that moment)
- I really enjoyed the stories about her experiences while working on Right to Play. Truly inspiring, fun and so raw and beautiful
- Loved her colourful dialogue (Yup I also believe that people who swear are more honest and trustful)
- Amazed by the amount of eating disorders within competitive sports, Liked that she talked so openly about her own struggles. Hey we have something in common - who knew - no one is safe from that inner demon
- Impressed with the connection in regards to her Father at the beginning and the end of the story. Nicely done
The Not So Good Stuff
- Jumps around a bit
"As a kid, you just try to survive. You grind whatever awful things you are experiencing into dust as they're happening.'
"My Dad used to say to me, "Clara, never put anyone below you, and never put anyone above you. There are good an bad people - you can't deceive yourself into thinking otherwise - but it has nothing to do with race or income."
"This lesson in a taxicab on a cold winter's day showed me the potential of human beings to transcend hatred, greed, and genocide. Even now I marvel that someone could come to this kind of peace after losing so much."
I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review