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Diamond Ruby

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Overview

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Thomas, newly responsible for her two young nieces after a devastating tragedy, is determined to keep her family safe in the vast, swirling world of 1920s 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...

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Diamond Ruby: A Novel

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Overview

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Thomas, newly responsible for her two young nieces after a devastating tragedy, is determined to keep her family safe in the vast, swirling world of 1920s 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 kind of renown 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 Ku Klux Klan, and the gangster underworld.

Diamond Ruby
“is the exciting tale of a forgotten piece of baseball’s heritage, a girl who could throw with the best of them. A real page-turner, based closely on a true story” (Kevin Baker, author of Strivers Row).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Comparisons to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are not made lightly . . . wonderful, memorable . . . perfect.”
—Laura Lippman

"Diamond Ruby is the exciting tale of a forgotten piece of baseball's heritage, a girl who could throw with the best of them. A real page-turner, based closely on a true story." — Kevin Baker, author of Strivers Row

“Diamond Ruby is a gem! Moving, fascinating, and ultimately exhilarating.
I loved it!” —S. J. Rozan, Edgar Award–winning author of The Shanghai Moon

"Diamond Ruby is a gem! From the first page I found myself caring deeply about Wallace's idiosyncratic characters, rooting for them as they made their way through a world so skillfully portrayed that though it was new to me I felt right at home. Moving, fascinating, and ultimately exhilarating. I loved it!" — SJ Rozan, Edgar-winning author of The Shanghai Moon

"Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey may loom among the many appealing, larger-than-life characters who show up in this wonderfully fun novel of baseball and 1920's Brooklyn, but readers will be especially dazzled and charmed by Diamond Ruby herself. It really IS A Tree Grows in Brooklyn meets Ragtime! Joseph Wallace has walloped a homer right out of the park!" — Katharine Weber, author of True Confections and Triangle

"Diamond Ruby is a very special book. The comparisons to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are not made lightly: Joseph Wallace deserves that accolade and many more. Ruby is a wonderful, memorable character and Wallace's prose is a perfect match for her." — Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of Life Sentences and What the Dead Know

“Lively and entertaining…includes all sorts of colorful characters and fascinating social history…the story of an unassuming, courageous young woman who uses the national pastime to become a pioneering heroine in a man’s world.”

The Washington Post

Library Journal
As a girl, Ruby Thomas faces torment over her unusually long arms. After losing most of her family to the 1918 flu epidemic, a 13-year-old Ruby is determined to protect her two nieces. With little help from her older brother, now a broken man, Ruby uses those long arms, first to kill squirrels to feed the family and then to become part of a carny show throwing fast balls as 17-year-old Diamond Ruby. It's a hard life, and it gets harder when rum runners and gamblers take over. Even as she makes a career for herself on a minor league team, Ruby is dogged by greed and corruption. Her determined love for her family, help from some unlikely friends, and a critical throw finally give her the break she has earned. VERDICT Ruby is a keeper—a believable heroine living in a fully re-created New York world of baseball and Prohibition. There are echoes of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but this story holds its own, allowing Diamond Ruby her place as a literary gem. This debut novel by a baseball historian may also appeal to YA readers.—Jan Blodgett, Davidson, NC
Publishers Weekly
Based on the true story of a lady pitcher who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in exhibition play, this debut novel from nonfiction author Wallace (Grand Old Game) is a diverting sports tale. In 1923, 18-year-old New Yorker Ruby Lee Thomas is forced to raise her two small nieces, Amanda and Allie, after the 1918 Spanish influenza devastates her family. Blessed (or cursed) with elongated arms that make for blazing fastballs, the southpaw is hired by the Fantasyland Circus Sideshow as “Diamond Ruby.” The Jewish pitcher draws the violent attention of the Klan, but also the admiration of Babe Ruth (a pitcher early in his career), who teaches her a few new throws, and boxing champion Jack Dempsey. The Brooklyn Typhoons eventually sign Ruby to pitch, where her amazing feats stir trouble with a charismatic gangster angling to fix her games; subsequent clashes and close calls with Prohibition-era hoodlums generate as much drama as her distinctive baseball prowess. Sharply sketched, convincing historical characters like Ruth and Dempsey add to the considerable appeal of Wallace's gritty but fun period baseball tale. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439160053
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 5/4/2010
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 528,805
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2014

    Evelyn

    I think it will be good!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Diamond Ruby's a girl's best friend

    There is always something satisfying with reading about historical figures - especially females - who break boundaries and change the world for the better. Yes, even if it simply involves bringing women into a man's sport. It just gives me hope for the world - and a better appreciation of the world we live in today. I mean, Diamond Ruby is set in the 1920s - that's 90 years ago, and while that seems like a century ago, how many of us still know someone who can remember such a time where sports were predominantly male? It's just astounding. Back to the book though, I really became invested in Ruby and her determination. She wasn't trying to prove the point that women can do things just as well as men (and maybe better) - she was simply trying to keep food on the table for her small family. After her parents and siblings die, Ruby is left as main breadwinner for her two nieces. Watching her go from being gawked at a sideshow like she was a bearded lady to playing on a men's baseball league was really fascinating. I loved the support system around her, including the famous Babe Ruth. While being a mostly uplifting book, there were dark moments in Ruby's life. For instance, when she is first trying to figure out how to feed herself and her two nieces, Ruby gets involved with modeling - the sort where the less you wear, the better - and the photographer will pay you quite handsomely if you treat him rather nicely. The whole situation just threw me aback - and it made me ill to think about the many girls who might have been coerced into such a lifestyle. Another moment is when Ruby gets involved with rigged baseball games - and she has to decide what to do for the sake of her family. Diamond Ruby is a fascinating read of a young woman who perseveres during a diversity of hardships and carves her place in baseball history. I can't wait to find out what Mr. Wallace has in store for Ruby!

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    Spellbinding Novel by a Master Storyteller

    Joe Wallace has dramatically described both the plight of woman and the period in this book set in the 1920's it is both a delightful, heartbreaking and glorious tale of one woman's desire to overcome tragedy.

    Diamond Ruby does whatever is needed to keep her nieces clothed and fed after losing most of her family to the plague. Still she keeps her dignity, honor, love of life, and of baseball alive amidst the backdrop of squaler and hopelessness that was the plight of so many in these years.

    One is swept into the book from page one and therefore into the plight of one determined and astounding young woman who is befriended by Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth. In this gripping tale that can be read and enjoyed by anyone even if they are not fans of Baseball.

    Wonderfully written and beautifully told story by a master storyteller. I will be looking for more by Joe Wallace in the coming years.
    Marta Moran Bishop
    Author Wee Three: A Mother's Love in Verse

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