Reviews

The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner

leareads90's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5

melissasbookshelf's review against another edition

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5.0

The All-American was pure pull on your heartstrings enjoyment! It’s my first novel by Susie Finkbeiner and won’t be my last. She completely drew me into 1950’s Michigan when baseball was king and the Red Scare was at its height. Through the delightful narration of the two young Harding sisters, we experience their highs and lows in this heartfelt coming of age story.

Sixteen year old Bertha Harding’s classmates all dream of dating and marrying, but Bertha loves baseball. She plays with the boys and writes to a famous pitcher for the Sweet Peas, part of the All-American Girls Softball League. When her friend Leo begins to take an interest in her, she begins to awaken to the idea of first love.

Flossie’s eleven years old going on twelve, a bit small for her age, and a complete bookworm. As she struggles to find friends who appreciate her intelligence and wit, she finds comfort in her family and books. When her famous writer father is accused by a neighbor of being part of the Communist Party during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, the whole family’s world is turned upside down.

Facing threats, ostracism, and financial ruin, the family moves to the small town of Bear Run and stays with shy, Uncle Matthew. It’s the opportunity for second chances, new friends, and a tryout for the Sweet Peas softball team. But, when tragedy strikes, will their dreams survive?

I absolutely adored Bertha and Flossie! Their POV’s were so fun to read. I highly recommend the audiobook because the narrators do a fantastic job bringing both of these girls to life. The Harding sisters and their family are so charming from their proper English mother to the creative, fun-loving father, and caring older brother Chip. I loved getting to know them all including the quiet Uncle Matthew. Also loved Bertha’s loyal friend Leo.

Bertha shares her nostalgic view of 1950’s American baseball complete with CrackerJacks, Coca-Cola, and hotdogs. Flo shares her love of classic literature including Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and even the Catcher in the Rye. I loved her take on Shakespeare.

It’s a fantastic juxtaposition of what it is to be quintessentially American with the Salem Witch Trial-like atmosphere of the Red Scare. The ending was at once tragic and hopeful. I loved the inspirational messages of faith subtly woven throughout the story. Definitely recommend to historical and Christian fiction fans. I received an advanced complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are completely my own and voluntarily given.

bonniereads777's review against another edition

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5.0

1952. Bertha Harding is a 16-year old girl living in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan with her parents and her sister Florence (Flossie). Her married brother visits often. Bertha’s dreams do not align with most other girls her age. She dreams of baseball and of playing for the Workington Sweet Peas, a team in the All-American Girls Baseball League. Her little sister Flossie dreams of books and writing, and frequently flees bullies. Overall, though, they live a sweet life in a close-knit neighborhood. But then their father is accused of being associated with the Communist Party by the Un-American Activities Committee. Overnight, life changes drastically and their family is hounded out of the neighborhood, relocating to a small town in Northern Michigan to start over.

What a powerful look at the American dream and what it means to be All-American! This novel is so well woven, with points of view switching mostly between Bertha and Flossie, with epistolary work in the form of letters and articles adding another element to the story. That feeling of knowing for sure what your life is about and who your friends are, and then having that pulled out from under you, is a punch in the stomach that the reader will experience along with the family. The American way of rebuilding and fighting back under stress and tremendous odds is also very evident in this book. A question the reader may ask is “Who is All-American?” Is it baseball player Bertha, reader and dreamer Flossie, or their father, the author William Harding, whose very patriotism has been challenged? The answer is all of the above. Richly layered, beautifully written, and oh, so American, this one shouldn’t be missed.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

jasperellis's review against another edition

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emotional inspiring lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

megs004's review against another edition

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5.0

I wholeheartedly loved this book. The All American is about the challenges of living in America in the 1950s. The story follows two sisters growing up with big dreams for their future.

Berta wants more to life than growing up being a suburban housewife. She aspires to become a Sweet Pea, a local professional girls' baseball team. Her sister Flossie is the exact opposite of her. She loves to get lost in a book than to interact with other people. She is feisty and a quick thinker. When their father, a famous author, got accused of being a communist, they had to pack up their bags and leave for their Uncle’s house to find some normalcy. The family had to reexamine what was more important and if their dreams for the future could still happen.

The book was well-written, and the baseball aspect was fun! As a big baseball fan, I loved that Finkbeiner used the sport as a symbol to describe life. Unlike baseball, life is unpredictable and presents many challenges and sorrows. The story provided a good correlation between the two. Finkbeiner also made it easy to fall in love with Berta and Flossie. Both sisters were lovable and feisty in their ways. My only complaint is that Berta did not get her own epilogue/conclusion . That made me think that Flossie was the true protagonist in the story, even though Berta’s story shined through the pages more. This book left a big impression on me, and I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to NetGallery and Revell for giving me a copy of the book.

chlud1as's review against another edition

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4.0

I was expecting more baseball and less conversations of communism, but overall an enjoyable read.

shenberger09's review against another edition

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emotional inspiring lighthearted

5.0

haleznm's review against another edition

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emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

denver9399's review against another edition

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emotional reflective medium-paced

4.5

ashellini's review

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challenging emotional inspiring sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0