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Diamond Ruby: Historical Fiction Homerun

Posted by: Surinder, December 1, 2010 1:30 pm
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If you pay attention to book buzz on Twitter and at publisher previews, the 1920s are the new vampires. Whether or not that's true, Diamond Ruby is thoroughly enjoyable. The book opens with a young girl, Ruby Thomas, at Ebbets Field, attending a baseball game where she catches a foul ball and begins her fascination with the game. Called "Monkey Girl" for her long arms, Ruby soon discovers a talent with her captured ball: she call throw far, she can throw fast, she can throw hard.

Five years later, the Spanish influenza strikes New York City, killing most members of Ruby's family, and leaving her to care for her young nieces who have been orphaned by her sister-in-law's death and brother's descent into alcoholism. Unable to receive any sort of aid, since her brother should be supporting them, Ruby begins to provide for the family any way possible: catching squirrels for stew, posing in sexy lingerie, packing dates, beading, and finally heading to Coney Island: the "one other place you could still go when you'd fallen as far as she had." She lands a gig as "Diamond Ruby" -- the girl who can throw faster than anyone. After a few news stories, she begins to attract attention and her life becomes a whirlwind of celebrity, hanging out with Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, and intrigue as she find herself tangled up in the business of rumrunners, mobsters, the KKK, a Prohibition agent, and a shady Coney Island boss. The fun really starts when Ruby begins to pitch for an otherwise all-male minor league team.

Wallace has a flair for the time period and subject, and the writing is solid. I love the baseball/moon on the cover. Ruby's determined spirit is inspirational without being overly cheesy. She is a girl who thinks she can do anything because such an attitude is required in order to take care of her.


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