Archive | 10:17 AM

Book Club Reflection: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

14 Dec

My book club met last week to discuss a book I really enjoyed, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Happily, most of us enjoyed the book a lot so it was a very positive discussion.

Many commented that the races were well written and easy to follow. The quotes from Pocock at the beginning of each chapter were really great, too, and helped give some context. We gave rowing a lot more credit after reading the book because of the details we learned went into it, even with sports technology where it was in the 30s. Some felt that the narrative got a little detailed at times because of the minutia about the sport, but they were able to push through and still enjoy the story.

Many of us were very impressed with Joe. He went through a lot of trauma with his mother dying when he was so young and how his family left him when he was only ten years old. He was very motivated to attend school so he could get a good job and raise himself up. Many other students were mentioned throughout the book who were in the same situation. He was lucky to have Joyce, who was one of the only constant things in his life and one of the most wonderful things to come into his life.

Rowing is not a big sport in our area. There are some crews on the Detroit River, out of the Belle Isle Yacht Club, but that’s a very exclusive and small set. I know there are big schools in our area with teams. My sister-in-law rowed in college so I’m probably a little more aware of the sport than most. Many readers said they wouldn’t be aware of rowing outside the Olympics.

There was a good historical context in this book as well. The lead-up to WWII was a prominent part and we wondered if the coxswain had revealed his Jewish ancestry if he’d still have been able to compete. A reader recommended the book Olympic Pride, American Prejudice by Deborah Riley Draper about the Black experience at the 36 Olympics, focusing on the runners and Jesse Owens. This book didn’t go into that area much but it’s another big historical marker from the 36 games.

At our meeting, we looked and saw that WU was ranked 2nd nationally in men’s crew. USC was 3rd. I guess the rivalry is still strong.

Until next time, write on.

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