A Skating Life: My Story by Dorothy Hamill

This is a revealing look into Dorothy Hamill’s life from her first moments on the ice at 8 years old, to training to become a Gold Medal winner at the ’76 Olympics through her life today. Dorothy Hamill details the sacrifices her family made, the challenges with coaches and training to become an Olympic athlete and how her passion for skating got her through some of the most difficult times in her life.

Dorothy Hamill was my hero growing up. I had the Dorothy haircut, the Dorothy glasses, and spent many afternoons on the skating rink at my grade school trying to teach myself spins and jumps. After reading A SKATING LIFE: MY STORY, she remains my hero.

I never realized what went into becoming serious in a sport like ice skating. The expense of traveling to train with the right coach, traveling to get enough time on the ice to practice, the cost of equipment and trying to get an education while competing in shows around the world was only a part of it. It was inspiring to learn the sacrifices made by Dorothy’s family and Dorothy herself, although she never writes much of her own personal sacrifices. I learned so much about the beautiful and challenging sport.

Dorothy’s story doesn’t end with winning the gold medal in the ’76 Olympics. It was only the beginning. She met the love of her life, Dean Paul Martin only to have it end in heartbreak and tragedy. My heart broke right along with her. I so wanted her to live happily ever after and the love that she still feels for her first husband, Dean Paul radiates from the pages. This was when her struggle with depression truly came to the surface, even though she battled with panic disorder and depression all through childhood. The honesty that comes from this book is truly a gift. The painful family issues and frank discussion of depression were courageous.

That being said, I hoped for a bit more about her struggle with depression. There was a lot of publicity about this book and America’s Sweetheart suffering from depression for years, but little description of her struggle. It was written in a very matter of fact style without a lot of adjectives. Perhaps that’s where we glimpse the real Dorothy. Instead of waxing poetic or dwelling in the difficult, she soldiers on telling her story with respectability and straightforwardness.

She survived another marriage that ended in painful divorce and leaving her a bankrupt single mother. I was so sad and angry for what she endured. And yet she never wrote a bitter word about anyone. I don’t know of many of us who could have endured what she did, and remain so humble and without animosity or hostility.

While this wasn’t the best written book I have ever reviewed, I had to give it a higher rating for its pure heart and openness.

I think that Dorothy found closure with some of the issues plaguing her. The one issue that will probably always haunt her is the death of her first husband. I have a feeling Dean Paul will continue to be a shadow, watching over her and waiting for her.


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