Book Spotlight (and a Giveaway!): The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner

Posted July 11, 2023 by meezcarrie in Christian, giveaway, historical, Susie Finkbeiner / 66 Comments


The All-American excerpt

The All-American by Susie FinkbeinerTHE ALL-AMERICAN by Susie Finkbeiner
GENRE: Historical Fiction (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Revell

RELEASE DATE: July 11, 2023
PAGES: 351

Two sisters discover how much good there is in the world–even in the hardest of circumstances

It is 1952, and nearly all the girls 16-year-old Bertha Harding knows dream of getting married, keeping house, and raising children in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Bertha dreams of baseball. She reads every story in the sports section, she plays ball with the neighborhood boys–she even writes letters to the pitcher for the Workington Sweet Peas, part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

When Bertha’s father is accused of being part of the Communist Party by the House Un-American Activities Committee, life comes crashing down on them. Disgraced and shunned, the Hardings move to a small town to start over where the only one who knows them is shy Uncle Matthew. But dreams are hard to kill, and when Bertha gets a chance to try out for the Workington Sweet Peas, she packs her bags for an adventure she’ll never forget.

Join award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner for a summer of chasing down your dreams and discovering the place you truly belong.

 

Bertha
Early March, 1952

According to Mrs. Higginbottom—home economics teacher at Bonaventure Park High School—there were certain skills that the average girl needed to master in order to secure for herself a good husband, live in a nice home, raise clean-cut children, and serve her country. Those skills included, in no particular order:

  1. Keeping a spic-and-span house.
  2. The wherewithal to put supper on the table at the exact time her husband wanted it.
  3. The coordination to wear pumps while chasing toddlers and the grace to maintain her perfectly set hair while scrubbing the tub.

Et cetera, et cetera.

To make an exhaustive list would have only, well, exhausted me. Suffice to say, she believed that the All-American girl was at her best when living a life of married domesticity.

Also according to Mrs. Higginbottom, I, Bertha R. Harding, was doomed to spinsterhood.

Not that she’d ever said as much. She didn’t have to. I saw it in her eyes every time I left streaks on the floor I was meant to be mopping, or when a sock I’d darned ended up more hideous than Frankenstein’s monster.

It was all right by me, not being at the top of that class. As for my mother, well, she was a little less enthused.

Mam worried that my lack of domestic talents would reflect poorly on her. But the fault wasn’t hers. It was completely mine. No matter how much effort I put into that doggone class, I couldn’t manage to do much of anything right.

At the start of class that day, Mrs. Higginbottom told all of us girls that making a crust was as easy as pie—to which half of the girls laughed as if they’d never heard anything funnier in their lives.

I, however, had been dubious, remembering my many past failures with all things doughy.

I knew I’d been right to doubt when Mrs. Higginbottom said, “Young house makers, study the recipe on the board. Commit it to memory.”

And then, only minutes later, erased all the instructions.

I had not, it turned out, committed it to memory, as was evidenced by the glob of goo that oozed at the edges on the counter in front of me.

All around me the other girls worked happily at rolling their crusts and dusting flour and being utterly and completely girlish.

Then there was me, sweating like a hog and unable to wipe my brow because every inch of my hands was covered in tacky, lumpy, unappetizing pie dough.

I was a mess, the crust was a bust, and I had no idea how to fix any of it.

“Ladies,” Mrs. Higginbottom called, clapping her hands twice to get our attention.

Mrs. Higginbottom—sometimes referred to as Old Wigglebottom, but only when she wasn’t around to hear it—looked like she was fresh out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Soft and round and in possession of the sweetest smile.

Mrs. Higginbottom really was a nice person. A nice person who—if school gossip could be believed—had a bit of a drinking problem.

“I have business to attend to,” Mrs. Higginbottom said.

A few girls in the class exchanged knowing glances.

“Keep working,” Mrs. Higginbottom went on. “I expect to see beautiful crusts from each of you when I return.”

And with that, she slung her purse over her shoulder and stepped out of the classroom, the door thudding closed behind her.

Glancing up at the clock, I saw that I had just enough time left in class to give it another go. That was, as long as I suddenly remembered the recipe. And if I got started right away. I scooped up what I could of the first crust and dumped it in the trash can. It made the most horrible splatting sound when it hit the bottom.

This was hopeless.

I moaned. It came out louder than I’d meant for it to, and Violet—the poor, long-suffering soul forced to share a workspace with me—cleared her throat.

“Do you mind?” she said, glaring at me.

“Sorry,” I said, cringing.

No one—but no one—took pie making as seriously as Violet Lancaster. And she had the blue ribbons to prove it. Four years in a row she’d won first place for her apple pie at the county fair. I had no doubt that she could have made a pie in her sleep if she needed to. With one hand tied behind her back.

“You used too much Crisco,” Violet said, working the edge of her crust into crimps using thumbs and pointer finger.

“I did?” I asked, watching her. “How do you do that?”

She paused and glanced up at me.

“You have to be able to get the recipe right first,” she said.

“Right.”

“It’s two cups flour, one cup shortening, by the way.”

I wrinkled my nose, trying to figure out how I could have messed that up.

“Isn’t that what I did?” I asked.

“No. I watched you. You got them switched.”

“Oops,” I said. “What about the water? One cup, right?”

Violet closed her eyes and exhaled through her nose, pushing her lips closed tight.

“Half,” she said through clenched teeth. “Just half a cup.”

“Boy, did I ever get it wrong.” I chuckled. “You know, Vi, sometimes I wonder why they made you take this class at all.”

She looked up from her pie, giving me a look like I had a rat sitting on top of my head.

“Why’s that?” she asked.

“Well, it seems you know everything about being a wife already.” I put my hands in the pockets of my flannel skirt and turned back toward my side of the counter. “Keep up the good work, sister.”

“The water has to be cold, by the way,” she called after me. “Ice cold.”

I lifted my hand to give her a thumbs-up.

Violet was the kind of girl who planned to get married right after high school. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she dreamed of having a late June wedding. She was the type to know just what sort of dress she wanted to wear and who she’d ask to be her maid of honor.

All she needed was for a suitable boy to propose.

As far as I knew, she’d have her pick of the litter when the time came around.

She’d make the perfect wife.

Good for her.

I really meant that.

I let the tap water run, hoping that would get it icy cold like Violet said it should be.

While I waited, I looked at the posters that had been on the far wall for so long I was sure they were stuck there permanently. “Plant a Garden for Victory!” or “Missing Him Won’t Bring Him Home Sooner: Get a War Job!” or “Mend, Don’t Spend! Save the New for the Boys!”

One poster had a very blond woman—a very young and pretty woman—with a pie balancing on her hands.

“I know how to welcome him home,” she said via comic-book bubble suspended over her head. “A homemade apple pie for my own homegrown hero.”

I rolled my eyes at that very blond, very pretty girl and measured out a cup of water, hoping that was how much I needed.

Violet watched as I pried the top off the can of Crisco. She crossed her arms while I spooned globs of gunk into the measuring cup.

If I was ever going to get married, I’d need to find a man who didn’t have much of a sweet tooth. Either that or a house that was close to a bakery.

Susie Finkbeiner, The All-American
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2023. Used by permission.

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Susie Finkbeiner

Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, as well as Stories That Bind Us, The Nature of Small Birds, and other novels. She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women’s events across the country. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan. Learn more at www.susiefinkbeiner.com.

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The All-American giveaway

Revell is offering a print copy of The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What makes you want to read The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner?

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66 responses to “Book Spotlight (and a Giveaway!): The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner

  1. Thomas Gibson

    I really like reading stories within the 1950’s era. By reading the excerpt, it reminds me of the movie, “A League of Their Own” with Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. Loved that movie.

  2. Candice Valdez

    I love all of the books that Susie Finkbeiner has written and I can’t wait to read this one!

  3. marti

    I’ve seen lots of good things about this book! I think I’ve heard of some of the other books as well!

  4. Roxanne C.

    I enjoyed that excerpt so much… Now I wonder how Bertha’s second pie crust comes out.

  5. Anne

    This novel sounds captivating and wonderful. The era is my favorite since I grew up during the 1950’s.

  6. Amy Donahue

    Love reading about this “June Cleaver” era and fascinated by the expectations placed on women and girls at this time!

  7. MS Barb

    Historical (?) fiction b/c it takes place in 1952!!!??? sigh. I was born in 1951, and I don’t feel “historical!” Interesting story summary!

    • i know it. The cutoff, from what I can tell, is 50 years ago. Which means I’M about to become ‘historical’ sooner than later hahaha

  8. Cindy Merrill

    I’ll be honest- my aunt Patty would love this book because this was her era and she told me all about it. If I win, I’ll send the book to her.

  9. Pam K.

    I want to read The All American because it’s written by Susie Finkbeiner. I also liked the excerpt.

  10. After reading the book excerpt- I want to read The All-American. I love reading about how ladies have had to really fight for the right to be able to prove we can do anything we put our mind to -and we did !

  11. Steph

    This looks great. A book about a woman in the 50s that wants to play baseball? Sign me up.

  12. Denise Turner

    I want to read this because I love baseball, and love to read stories about the American Girls Professional League.

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