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Staff Picks Category: Sports

Fast Girls by Elise Hooper []



Elise Hooper (The Other Alcott, 2017) finds three unheralded female athletes to share in a tale spanning three Olympiads: 1928 Amsterdam, when the first women’s delegation competed in track and field; 1932 Los Angeles, when runners of color were unjustly left out of competition; and 1936 Berlin, where Jesse Owens outshone all other American athletes. Betty Robinson, Louise Stokes, and Helen Stephens have different backgrounds and a shared talent: running like the wind. Their challenges, compounded by the Great Depression, vary as well. Betty is a classic golden girl with doting parents and a bright future and the first female gold medal winner in track and field, but is nearly killed in a plane crash just weeks before the 1932 games. Louise is the oldest daughter in a poor black family, leaving school for domestic work to help support her younger siblings. Helen is an awkward farm girl with few prospects beyond working the family farm until her potential is seen by the local track coach at a church basketball game. Each makes her own way to excellence, with support outside of family, making history along the way. Social commentary is provided by fictitious news articles written in the style of the period, with condescending awe that women could accomplish these things.

For fans of The Boys in the Boat, historical fiction about real people, and stories about little-known female heroes breaking through barriers.

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