Susie Finkbeiner (All Manner of Things) invites readers along on the inspiring journey of a young baseball player who dreams of playing for the first women’s professional baseball league in the adeptly crafted coming-of-age novel The All-American.
To the disappointment of her mother, and despite her home economics teacher’s warnings against future spinsterhood, Bertha Harding has no interest in mastering domestic skills like the other girls. Bertha’s true passion is baseball, and the 1952 season of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) is about to begin. Bertha can hardly wait to see the Workington Sweet Peas play, but she fears that her hopes of playing for the team are crushed when her father is accused of being a member of the Communist Party. Her family flees Detroit to her uncle’s home in a small town in Michigan. Still, Bertha remains hopeful, and in time, her journey with the Sweet Peas begins.
Told through the voices of Bertha and her sister, Flossie, The All-American offers an intimate glimpse into their lives and the challenges they face. Fitting in at school is tough for both of them, thanks to Bertha’s lack of interest in marriage and Flossie’s struggle to make friends. But their lives expand through the bonds they forge: Bertha’s love of baseball is supported by the Sweet Peas pitcher, and Flossie learns true friendship and empathy from her friend Lizzie.
Captivating historical details contextualize the story and add conflict and tension. The Red Scare casts a shadow over everyone’s lives, straining relationships and fomenting fear of tarnished relationships. Finkbeiner also includes fascinating background information on the AAGPBL, offering a beautiful celebration of the women who broke barriers for other girls and women in baseball.
Led by relatable characters, The All-American is a moving novel, fit for inspiring any reader to dream big and believe that anything is possible.