I grew up in New England as a bonafide bookworm. My love of reading, paired with an overly active imagination, led me to believe I was born in the wrong era. Instead of living in the ‘80s, I was supposed to be traveling across the prairie in a covered wagon (Laura Ingalls), chasing fauns through Narnia (Susan or Lucy Pevensie), or exploring Prince Edward Island in “puffed sleeves” (Anne Shirley); instead I crossed town in a station wagon to chase field hockey balls and wore Tretorns to explore the mall, all while dreaming of leading a more storied existence somewhere like Thornfield Hall, Manderley, or Tara.
After eventually moving to the West coast and attending graduate school, I started teaching high school English and history and writing whenever I had the chance. My main characters tend to be based on the lives of real women who have been frequently overlooked in history books. Many of these women, like May Alcott, Dorothea Lange, Betty Robinson, Helen Stephens, and Louise Stokes can help us better understand the past and draw important connections to our own times.
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.
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