I am a crier—the tears will inevitably flow when I have to give those final hugs at the airport (whether I’m the one leaving or not), or when a graduate walks across the stage. I cry when I hear beautiful music and when I pour my heart out to the Lord in my journal.
I’m also very sentimental when it comes to sports. I know, it’s a little weird.
Don’t get me started on how much I love the Olympics and how many times I’ve bawled my eyes out while cheering for the underdog or the favorite, or when the team from the United States enters during the Opening Ceremonies.
So did I get emotional reading Yusra’s description of walking in with the Refugee Olympic team at the 2016 Games in Brazil? Yes, yes I did.
Yusra remembers, “I’m in my living room in Daraya, vowing to make it to the top. I’m staring in horror at the bomb in the pool. I’m diving into the sea, desperate prayers ringing in my ears. I’m falling asleep in a Hungarian prison. I’m pushing myself harder than ever in the pool in Berlin.” What a journey for Yusra, her family, the others on the Refugee Olympic team.
Over and over Yusra has opportunities to use her voice, her story, to speak on behalf of other refugees. While my life has been nothing like Yusra’s (I have not experienced the horrors of war and leaving my home, nor have I been to the Olympics), it was reminder to me to speak out when I have the chance. I can share my perspective and be an advocate.
A few details, in case you are curious! Yusra didn’t talk much about her race in the book. She won her heat in the 100m butterfly but didn’t qualify for the semi-finals.
Yusra is also part of the Refugee Olympic Team for the Tokyo Games! She had the privilege of serving as one of the Refugee Team’s flagbearers, and I cheered for her as I watched the Opening Ceremony.
I’ve added some different interviews, articles and other resources below if you want to check out more of Yusra’s story!
I’d love to know what you thought about the ending of the book. Any big takeaways from Yusra’s story?
Enjoy Butterfly? You might also like these books about Olympic athletes:
Rome 1960: The Olympics that Changed the World by David Maraniss
Next Month’s Book
In August we will be reading These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker! Here’s a summary of the book:
Before Dan opened his door to find a wounded woman who had escaped from the tormentors in the mountain, his life had become rather quiet. He and the eight other people in the mostly abandoned town had become friends. They spent peaceful evenings around the campfire and even made vague plans to journey east one day and leave the ominous mountain behind.
But the woman’s arrival changes everything.
Who is she? How does she know so much about Dan’s brother, who is still held captive in the mountain? Why are long-forgotten memories rising to the surface? And why does Dan feel so compelled to keep her presence in his house a secret?
Visionary writer Shawn Smucker is back with an unsettling story that invites us to consider two challenging questions: To what lengths will we go to assuage our own guilt? and Is there a limit to the things we will do for the people we love?
August 3: Prologue, Chapters 1-7
August 10: Chapters 8-15
August 17: Chapters 16-22
August 24: Chapters 23-30
August 31: No Book Club, learn about the next session of Connection Groups