Author: Daniel James Brown
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Reading copy via local library
If you're looking for a historical nonfiction title that will appeal to teens as well as adults, then The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is the one.
Don't let the subtitle, "Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" fool you too much. The Olympics is the climax, but certainly not the whole book. The heart and soul of the book is the story of Joe Rantz, a mechanic's son who was abandoned by his family during The Great Depression.
Joe is forced to survive in the rough-and-tumble backwoods of the Pacific Northwest, finally finding his way to the University of Washington. He tries out for crew only because it'll help him get a job on campus. But rowing ends up being so much more for him, and for the other boys in the boat.
The book has plenty of action-packed rowing scenes as the scrappy Washington crew proves their mettle again and again, but there's also the historical sweep of the Depression and the rise of Nazism. There's the drama of learning to trust one another and work as a team. There's the craft of boat building and the physics of rowing. There's even romance as Joe courts his high school sweetheart.
The Boys in the Boat is at times poignant, even heartbreaking, but it is, ultimately, an inspiration.
The Boys in the Boat Book Trailer: