I admit, I avoided reading this book for many months even though it received glowing reviews. I had very little interest in crew (well, except for the handsome guys at college whose training regimens and resultant physiques left me gobsmacked), and anyway, we already knew how it ended: they won gold at the 1936 Olympics. Where was the suspense in that?
I’m not going to lie. It took a few pages to get into it. I wasn’t sure why I should keep reading. Then I met Joe Rantz, whose humble, heartbreaking story epitomized the word “underdog.” Abandoned by his father and the whole rest of his family, Joe was forced to survive on his own during the Depression while the rest of his family lived nearby and completely avoided him.
Even though I knew Joe would triumph, I wanted to see how he and the other boys pulled it together. For many pages, it seemed impossible that they would. I had already seen the gold medal in the Prologue, and still, I couldn’t believe it.
This is a great story of courage and guts. Very poignant.