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Susie Finkbeiner’s newest novel, The All-American, is no exception to her excellent storytelling ability as seen in previous novels such as All Manner of Things, selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, and The Nature of Small Birds.

This time she sets her tale in 1952 in the Detroit suburb of Bonaventure Park, an era of baseball, apple pie, and the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Bertha and Florence Harding, sisters as different as night and day, must face the unimaginable when their novelist father is accused of being a Communist. Their worlds fall apart as friends flee, their father stops writing, and the family must move north to escape the harassment that follows. 

Bertha turns to baseball, her one true love, eventually making the All-American Girls Baseball League’s Sweet Peas team. Florence, the younger sister, escapes into the books she loves so much, yet finds an unexpected friend in Bear Run when the family moves in with Uncle Matthew Harding. 

The All-American is a coming-of-age tale of two sisters—Bert and Flossie—who must weather storms they never thought possible, both in the world at large and in their own hearts. They discover the importance of family and true friends, as well as discover the strength each of them carries as they navigate a reeling world they barely understand. 

Readers who love Finkbeiner’s earlier novels will find much to love here; those looking for a new lens through which to view that difficult time in America’s past need look no further. The All-American is a great summer read as delicious as apple pie and as enjoyable as an afternoon at the ballpark. (Revell)


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