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Review: Fast Girls by Elise Hooper

Title: Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team

Author: Elise Hooper

Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult fiction (historical)
Pages: 512
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (CA, IL, NY, MA), UK, Netherlands, Germany

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): In the 1928 Olympics, Chicago’s Betty Robinson competes as a member of the first-ever women’s delegation in track and field. Destined for further glory, she returns home feted as America’s Golden Girl until a nearly-fatal airplane crash threatens to end everything.

Outside of Boston, Louise Stokes, one of the few black girls in her town, sees competing as an opportunity to overcome the limitations placed on her. Eager to prove that she has what it takes to be a champion, she risks everything to join the Olympic team.

From Missouri, Helen Stephens, awkward, tomboyish, and poor, is considered an outcast by her schoolmates, but she dreams of escaping the hardships of her farm life through athletic success. Her aspirations appear impossible until a chance encounter changes her life.

These three athletes will join with others to defy society’s expectations of what women can achieve. As tensions bring the United States and Europe closer and closer to the brink of war, Betty, Louise, and Helen must fight for the chance to compete as the fastest women in the world amidst the pomp and pageantry of the Nazi-sponsored 1936 Olympics in Berlin. 
Review: I really do enjoy a good historical fiction novel and one that combines sports tends to do well with me as this one did.

The 1920s and 1930s was not a time when women participated in sports in general since we were deemed "too fragile." Well, you know how I feel about that statement. As someone who competed through my first year of college, that's baloney. :-) This novel really shows the cultural, politicial, and social aspects for women with tons of talent and grit. I liked that the three women were all from different areas of the US: rural farm in Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; and the suburbs of Boston and that there are two races/ethnic groups represented. It made the novel more than just about sports, but about women and race relations at a crucial time in our history.

I am so impressed with all the women in this novel, not just the three main characters. They worked hard, were talented, fought for what they believed, and were successful (mostly). And, there is a wonderful After Word that fills you in on what happened in real life to various characters in the book, a real plus for me! If you have any interest in history, the Olympics, sports, and women's lives during the Great Depression and New Deal, then you'll enjoy this novel.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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