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Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace

Diamond Ruby

by Joseph Wallace

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  clue | Jan 1, 2017 |
Enjoyed reading this book about a young woman with an extraordinary talent of throwing a baseball ( )
  KayDances | Mar 28, 2013 |
Historical fiction set in 1920's New York! Ruby Thomas lives in Brooklyn, with her two nieces and her brother. She lost her parents, other siblings and sister-in-law to the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic, which also left her surviving brother somewhat brain damaged. Thus, Ruby is left to work and support the family herself at the age of 15. She has one unusual talent -- she can throw a baseball as fast and as accurately as any major league pitcher. But in the 1920s, no female was allowed to play in men's sports. After a few years of desperate poverty, she finds work at a Coney Island sideshow, where she is nicknamed "Diamond Ruby" and people pay to see if they can out-throw her, including minor and major league ballplayers. New York Yankee Babe Ruth shows up with friends, including boxing legend Jack Dempsey, and Diamond Ruby gets an unheard-of chance to play for a struggling new minor league team: the Brooklyn Typhoons. Prejudice is everywhere, from the players and fans to the Ku Klux Klan, and there are plenty of people who want to make money off of Ruby's new fame, including gangsters, rumrunning smugglers, and the thug owner of the Coney Island sideshow she left behind. Famous people and places abound in this descriptive, well-written pageturner! Wallace's characters are amazing -- his villains are utter human evil, and our heroine Ruby is a tough, smart young woman who has to make some extremely difficult choices to protect herself and her family. Strong 7th grade readers and up. ( )
  KarenBall | Sep 23, 2011 |
First Line: Ruby Thomas had never seen anything as beautiful as Ebbets Field, with its brick exterior and half-moon windows that reminded her of slices of jelly candy.

Ruby Thomas was seven years old when she visited Ebbets Field. The date was April 5, 1913. It was the first and last time she remembered being happy.

Ruby's mother was an ardent suffragette, and homeschooled her children. Ruby was grateful for that because whenever the neighborhood children would see her, they'd take one look at her long arms and start shouting, "Hey, Monkey Girl!" Life was much easier when she didn't have to deal with those other kids. What those kids didn't know was that her long arms helped her throw a baseball hard, fast and accurately.

When the flu epidemic strikes a few years later, Ruby's family is practically wiped out. At the age of thirteen, she is left in charge of her two young nieces, and she's got to find a way to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. Chucking rocks at squirrels just doesn't cut it. Because she can throw a baseball hard and fast and accurately, she becomes a sideshow attraction at Coney Island, and her fame brings her in contact with such celebrities as Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey. But in those roaring days of the 1920s, there always seems to be someone with an eye to how they can cheat her out of as much money as possible. Life is an unending struggle, and Ruby has very little to smile about.

Based on the life of Jackie Mitchell, Diamond Ruby brings the era of the teens and twenties to life. As I followed Ruby Thomas, I felt what it was like to grow up poor in the New York City metro area; I felt what it was like to struggle through the flu epidemic; and as each person tried to cheat Ruby and her nieces out of what was rightfully theirs, I felt cheated, too. When Ruby pitched all day at the Coney Island sideshow, my own arm and shoulder ached. Wallace is masterful at putting the reader right inside Ruby's skin.

If I have any quibble at all with this book, it's that it's almost unrelentingly grim. Ruby learned at a very early age that life isn't fair, but as the pages turned, I was so firmly convinced that she was deserving of happiness that I couldn't help but wish that I could watch her experience some.

As an evocation of time and place, as a character study, and as a loving tribute to some forgotten pages of baseball history, Joseph Wallace has hit a home run. ( )
  cathyskye | Aug 15, 2011 |
A wonderful historical fiction novel! Diamond Ruby Thomas is based loosely on Jackie Mitchell who, back in the 30's did face, and strike out, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig before she (and all females) were banned from baseball under orders of commisioner Judge Kenisaw Mountain Landis on the grounds that baseball was "too strenuous" of a sport for females. Woven into the plot are the historical events of The Spanish influenza epidemic, the illegal gambling and rum running during the prohibition era, the growing power of the KKK and, of course the beginnings of the suffragist movement. ( )
  ejmust | Jul 8, 2011 |
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For Sharon, Shanna, and Jacob. And for Jackie Mitchell, who didn't get the chance to show what she could do.
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Ruby Thomas had never seen anything as beautiful as Ebbets Field, with its brick exterior and half-moon windows that reminded her of slices of jelly candy.
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Seventeen-year-old Ruby Thomas is determined to keep her family safe in the vast, swirling world of 1920 New York City. She's got street smarts, boundless determination, and one unusual skill: the ability to throw a ball as hard as the greatest pitchers in a baseball-mad city. From Coney Island sideshows to the brand-new Yankee Stadium, Diamond Ruby chronicles the extraordinary life and times of a girl who rises from utter poverty to the kindof reown only the Roaring Twenties can bestow. But her fame comes with a price, and Ruby must escape a deadly web of conspiracy and threats from Prohibition rumrunners, the KKK, and the gangster underworld.

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In early twentieth century Brooklyn, Ruby endures many hardships including the flu epidemic, the death of family members, and even starvation, until her pitching talents open new opportunities in the changing world of sports for women.

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