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.
The Bottom Line: Fast Girls is a sweeping saga of young women, talented young women fighting for their place in the world against the most serious of obstacles. From race to gender, the women of Fast Girls are beacons of inspiration; women who overcame everything to pave the way for future generations. Outside of the obvious (in case it isn’t – the accomplishments of the athletes) the thing I found encouraging about this book was the number of people willing to help these women achieve their goals. From the coaches to the families to the citizens of their hometowns, these women created a spirit that was felt and honored by so many. Of course, this book isn’t all about the spirit of goodness and athleticism. There are also many dark elements to this book and to these women’s lives, all of which absolutely had an impact on their work and ability to compete. Though I truly and sincerely hated it for the impacted women, I appreciated the author including the ugly truths and really reflecting, for the reader, the reality of what these women faced, overcame, and accomplished. A fine historical fiction.
P.S. Be sure to turn the pages all the way to the end as the author has included what historical information there is pertaining to each of the featured women in the book. It is fascinating reading and led me to some additional Googling!