Hands down this is one of my most favorite books that I have read in awhile. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is the real life story of the 1936 Berlin Olympic gold medal rowing team. This is Joe Rantz’s story. He overcame so much in his life and the author portrays his story beautifully. The setting is the pacific northwest during the depression but also tells about what’s going on across the country as well as in Berlin. Joe Rantz was forced to be independent and hard working becuase of his family life. As a teenager he was left to fend for himself in a half built house.
Upon leaving him his dad says, “Look, Son, if there’s one thing I’ve figured out about life, it’s that if you want to be happy, you have to learn how to be happy on your own.” That’s not a lesson that most teenage boys have to learn when they still think they can depend on their parents. Joe’s life doesn’t get much easier. He finds a way to finance his way through college, never feeling good enough for his rowing team, working through personal issues, etc. Joe’s was a good kid and his story is captivating.
It’s not just Joe’s story that makes this book so good. It’s the background and research done by the author to help visualize the bigger picture. It’s the details in what was happening in Nazi Germany at the time. It’s the details in what was going on during the big “dust bowl” of the 30’s. It’s how you feel like you know the characters and who they are. It’s the way Joe’s girlfriend supports and love Joe despite his upbringing.
Although this book is nonfiction, it reads like a fiction book. I highly recommend this book. And I’m pretty sure they’re making this into a movie so you will want to make sure you read this before the movie comes out.