by PhyllisE (Mill Valley): Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a digital advance reader’s copy. All comments and opinions are my own.

I loved this! Deserves more than 5 stars! A heartwarming, historical, coming-of-age story that takes place during a time of massive cultural upheaval, this remarkable novel explores the power of friendship, hope, and progress.

The novel begins with this paragraph, “In 1964, a small miracle of a summer happened in Kate “Corky” Corcoran’s tiny, segregated town because of a softball game, a pastor feud, a drugstore sit-in, and a girl named America who Corky saw run as fast as Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph, the fastest woman in the world.”

After reading that sentence, I couldn’t put this book down. It’s well-written, with realistic characters, authentic dialogue, and edge-of-your-seat plotting. The book smoothly shifts from various characters’ points of view, including a dog, as well as an omniscient narrator. The suspenseful foreshadowing kept me turning the pages in anticipation. Talented author Lynda Rutledge (“West With Giraffes”) creatively takes the larger 1964 issues of racism and the Civil Rights Movement, women’s rights, the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam war, Martin Luther King Jr., and makes them personal by telling the story from the perspective of naïve 13-year-old Corky.

Rutledge explains how “The moral of this novel, if it has one, is about the absolute miracle of friendship and also about the miraculous ability that books and sports possess to draw those new worlds together.” Of course the book she is referring to is “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the sport is girls’ softball. If you want to read similar heartwarming 5-star coming-of-age novels of small-town drama mixed with poignant humor after finishing this one, I highly recommend “The All-American” by Susie Finkbeiner, “The Incredible Winston Browne” and “Kinfolk,” both by Sean Dietrich.

This would be great for book clubs and is one I’ll be telling everyone to read. Don’t miss this feel-good novel!