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Diamond Ruby    by Joseph Wallace order for
Diamond Ruby
by Joseph Wallace
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Diamond Ruby. Library Journal says of this book that 'Ruby is a keeper - a believable heroine living in a fully recreated 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.'

How true. Not being a fan of baseball, I opened this novel unsure if it would hold my interest. The first page caught me unaware and I immediately fell in love with the then eight year-old Ruby.

We meet Ruby prior to World War I in New York City. Later, as the Spanish flu hits New York in 1918, Ruby and two younger nieces, Amanda and Allie, find themselves the only surviving members of their family and alone in the world. Ruby has a pitching arm that allows her to get a job in a carnival. Soon, second league baseball claims her, but she is denigrated as a Catholic/Jew and told women have no place in baseball. The KKK harasses her.

The plot is wonderful and it is easy to live with Ruby and Amanda and Allie as they make their way in life. The reader will cheer Ruby's accomplishments and take umbrage with those who would see her fail. Diamond Ruby is based on a true story of a young girl who made her way into the big leagues. Hard to believe when even blacks were scorned in the stadiums.

And talk about characters. Diamond Ruby is full of those you would like to meet in real life. And definitely some you would never want to meet. But stirred together, they help to produce what could be a real-life drama. It doesn't hurt the plot that Babe Ruth and John Dempsey stroll through the story.

Diamond Ruby will surely find her way into the list of memorable women in fiction. I do believe that a sequel is in the works so I don't have to say goodbye to this courageous eighteen year-old girl who is smarter than those who think they own her and her talent. Put this one on your must-read list.

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