Book Review — Fast Girls

5 Aug

The Olympics were a month away when my book club chose Fast Girls by Elise Hooper to discuss. Fast forward a few weeks, and the Olympics were in full swing and there were lots of obstacles that athletes faced being publicized. Especially women athletes. We enjoyed the book and found many parallels to the struggles of athletes today. Recommended by our group.

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. 

A New Englander by birth, Elise Hooper now lives with her husband and two young daughters in Seattle. 

She’s drawn to historical figures, especially women, who linger in the footnotes of history books yet have fascinating stories waiting to be told. 

Please learn more: http://www.elisehooper.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elisehooperauthor/
Instagram: elisehooper
Twitter: @elisehooper

My Impressions:

My daughter was an athlete. Still is in many ways, although her competitive spirit is mostly seen in basketball pick-up games and adult league soccer. Throughout the years she was competing — rec league, then club teams, high school, and college — she was inspired by players that had made their mark on her sport. Fast Girls by Elise Hooper pays tribute to the women of the 1936 US Olympic track team who battled gender bias, racism, societal expectations, and even family opposition. The biographical novel focuses on Betty Robinson, Louise Stokes, and Helen Stephens, ordinary, yet extraordinary women, in their quest to achieve a gold medal. While a fictional account, Hooper does an admirable job of bringing the era to life. These three overcame so much in their personal lives to compete on an international level. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, with each woman being a favorite as I read through their stories. As I read the book, I couldn’t help seeing parallels even today. Women compete at all levels now, but they still face similar trials as the women who went before them. I loved learning about the women who allowed women’s access to sport today. My book club read/discussed this book — we all liked it. But those who read the book (I listened to the audio version) said they had trouble at first distinguishing the characters. The audiobook has several narrators, making the transitions easier for the listener.

Of note: This is general market fiction and includes some adult language and situations not found in most Christian fiction.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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