Although historical fiction is my favorite genre, I haven’t read much of it lately. Really, I haven’t read much fiction at all this summer (not very convenient when you are a regular contributor for a book blog). We’ve been busy, but I’ve also been reading a lot more nonfiction titles because of health issues (I do have some great titles related to nutrition to review). A few weeks ago, I was craving a good story. I picked up Diamond Ruby, and I am so glad I did. This debut novel from nonfiction writer Joseph Wallace is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.
Diamond Ruby is based on the true story of Jackie Mitchell, a young woman who played for the Chattanooga Lookouts Minor League team. Because the Yankees had heard about the female pitcher, they stopped in Chattanooga to let her pitch against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Both Ruth and Gehrig struck out. After hearing about Jackie’s pitching success, Judge Landis, the commissioner of baseball, banned Jackie (and all women) from from the sport.
Joseph Wallace uses these facts to craft an exciting tale about Ruby Thomas, a seventeen-year-old girl struggling to care for her two nieces in New York City during the 1920s. Ruby is a strong, determined girl with an amazing talent: she can throw a baseball accurately and hard. Ruby’s ability enables her to earn a living for her family, but it also leads to her involvement with some rough characters. Throughout the novel, Ruby has run-ins with bootleggers, the Klan, and other thugs intent on using Ruby’s talent to advance their own purposes. On a more positive side, Ruby also interacts with Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey (a boxer), and the story includes fascinating historical details about these characters as well as other events in our nation’s history.
I am a baseball fan, so this book was especially appealing to me. I would say, however, that this is simply a well-written tale that will appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. The characters are interesting (Ruby is especially delightful), and the novel is truly a page-turner. I felt like I was a part of the 1920s setting, and I hated to say good-bye to the characters at the end of the story. Whether you are a baseball fan or not, I think Diamond Ruby is a home run for all readers, and I am excited to add it to our 5 Star Reads category. I hope you will pick up a copy and read it for yourself!
Lauren is a wife, mother of two, and an avid reader. She thanks Simon and Schuster for providing the review copy of this book. Lauren blogs at Baseballs and Bows.