Summary: Three Strike Summer
In Three Strike Summer, young Gloria and her family lose their farm when an unending drought leads to a lack of produce. They move to California to find work and eventually start picking peaches on a farm. The family is also reeling from the loss of Gloria’s baby brother and struggling to contain Gloria’s spunky attitude which often gets her in trouble. At the farm, Gloria quickly discovers a baseball team (with only boys! who don’t want a girl on the team!) and is ready to do what it takes to join the team. At the same time, ripples of discontent with working wages lead to organizing that puts Gloria and her family in a precarious position.
I listened to this one on audio and the author did a brilliant job with the narration! Gloria comes to life so vividly in her mannerisms and unmistakable Southern twang. I could feel the pang of loss from the death of her little brother and the author also depicts her parents’ grief — which gladly doesn’t get in the way of their caring for their surviving children.
Gloria’s relationship with her sister is realistic and sweet. I loved hearing her strong feelings when her sister was harassed by some men on the farm (just suggestive glances and comments — no abuse!) and seeing them band together even more as the story progressed. This is great historical fiction and gives readers a glimpse into life on farms, the discrimination often faced by other races, and the inner life of kids at that time.
A major plot point is also the organizing that farmers did at that time to fight for better wages and how dangerous the results often were. We also read a fair amount about baseball and how little some of the boys wanted to play with Gloria even though she had proven herself repeatedly. There was just so much good stuff happening throughout this book. It also helps that the story’s ending is satisfying, but believable.
Overall: Three Strike Summer
Three Strike Summer is a punchy, inspiring historical middle grade book about family, baseball, and life on farms during the Great Depression. Featuring a spunky female protagonist who won’t take no for an answer, this book explores a wide range of themes from gender inequality to poor worker compensation and dealing with death and grief. I enjoyed this one and would also recommend the audiobook for readers who enjoy the format.