- Young Adult Nonfiction
- Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties
Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties
Macy offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into the journey of women's rights through the lens of women in sports during the pivotal decade of the 1920s. With elegant prose, poignant wit, and fascinating primary sources, Macy explores the many hurdles presented to female athletes as they stormed the field, stepped up to bat, and won the right to compete in sports. Featuring bold and talented heroines, this book documents how the social issues and morals of the decade--from politics to segregation to the media--helped shape the changing narratives around women and alter the course of history entirely. It is a fascinating window into a rich and seldom explored history, and also a topical reminder of the many discussions surrounding femininity and the role of women that continue today.
As in her Wheels of Change and Motor Girls, Macy presents an astonishing array of information about women in all manner of sports, as well as extremely helpful timelines about other history going on at the time. History textbooks often fail in showing cultural background for events, so I was glad to see two page spreads about events as varied as Prohibition, Lindbergh's Flight and the discovery of penicillin in between chapters, as well as an epilogue detailing important events up to the present time. For young people who struggle to place World War II in history, timelines are an important inclusion.
The array of photographs accompanying all of this information is amazing, and really helps with understanding items like the long skirts on the Vassar Resolutes' 1876 baseball uniforms or the swim suits on the 1924 women's Olympic swim team. I was especially drawn to the running shoes, which looked like they offered no support whatsoever. It must have been difficult to locate all of these, but they add tremendously to the text.
The epilogue, with a timeline about highlights in the evolution of women's sports, shows the advances and challenges in the last 100 years. Certainly, there is still progress to be made, and it is helpful to be inspired by women who fought against much greater odds to insure that women and girls would have an equal playing field and as much opportunity as possible. If you have readers who are very interested in this topic, hand them this book along with Jessie Graham Flower's 1911 Grace Harlowe's sophomore year at high school, or, The record of the girl chums in work and athletics. Grace's basketball team's experiences will seem all the more important after reading about the challenges girls faced a decade later!
Breaking Through is a must purchase for all school libraries, and will get equal use for research and for pleasure reading. In fact, since the National History Day theme this year is "Breaking Barriers", it is essential to obtain this title immediately. I'm going to make sure I have two copies, since Macy's works (including the 1996 Winning Ways) are always in demand, and I'm tempted to get a third to deconstruct and make into a bulletin board, which I often consider but never do!