This week I am reading YA baseball fiction for boys. It’s really well written and follows nine generations of the same family and their fascination with and adventures in the game of baseball.
I’ll highlight one of the stories. It is often a quandary with historical fiction how to show the attitudes of the times accurately, make your Caucasian characters like-able, and also give dignity to characters of another race all at the same time. Very confusing, but this author nailed it in just a few paragraphs. His character, a young American boy, sees a famous baseball player whose “hired man” is Asian. The boy reacts normally for the times with a bit of fear and thinking the guys long braid is weird. When the baseball player collapses the boy shouts loudly that he doesn’t “Speak Chinaman” and needs help getting the player to a hospital. The Asian guy simply sighs and says in a clipped New England accent that he is Japanese and the player is not dying but simply drunk.
It was so amazing! A feel for the racial tensions of the time, a believable protagonist, and a portrayal of the Japanese character that lent him dignity but also made him interesting. This is a fascinating and well written book even if you aren’t a young baseball-crazed boy.