The Boys in the Boat

This month the Book it Sisters Read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, Published June 2010, 416 pages.

Book it Sisters’ Grade:


Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.

Suzanne RigbyB-I thought the story itself was a great "rags to riches" story, it was just the way it was told I felt was a bit slow and repetitive.
Samantha HarrisonAI liked it because it made me appreciate his journey and the ability of someone to succeed in spite of very little advantages and support.
Mary Halsey
Judy BushB+The very interesting story was somewhat diminished by the cut and dry writing style that felt more journalistic and seemed to suck the life out of the characters. The story itself carried the book despite the plodding writing that sometimes seemed interminable.
Cheryl ClowesAI really enjoyed this book and the story of Joe and the team. I liked seeing each person's point of view and following their lives.
Anna McDanielsAI really enjoyed the book. I learned a lot about rowing and I admired the determination and mettle of the main character.
Silke ElsnerCI quit after 100 pages, it was too tedious for me.

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