The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings by Alan Gratz

For a non-baseball fan, I sure do read a lot of baseball books.  The latest of these is Alan Gratz’s The Brooklyn Nine.  In 1845 Felix Schneider is a ten-year-old immigrant  from Germany.  While working to bring the rest of his family over from Germany, he cheers on the NY Knickerbockers.  Over 150 years later his great-great-great-great-great grandson, Snider Flint, tracks down the history of a strange baseball bat that belonged to one of Brooklyn’s greatest players.  Over the 150 years in between we meet nine generations of the Schneider/Snider family, all connected by their love of baseball.  The stories are a pleasant mix of history and sport, touching on historical moments like the Civil War, the 1920’s mob, the All-American Girls Baseball League, the Cold War, and more.  But regardless of the setting, this is a story about baseball and how it connects a family.

Each story stands alone as a single thread that is woven into the family story.  I loved every story and my only complaint is that I could read an entire novel about each character.  I wanted to know even more about them!  But Gratz does a great job of telling each individual’s story and pulling you into their life.  Baseball is a part of each character’s life whether they are a spectator or player.  I love that Gratz includes female fans and players as some of the main characters because I have a hard time finding sports books for girls sometimes.  I think that The Brooklyn Nine will appeal to boys and girls alike for this reason.

The Brooklyn Nine also appealed to the inner history buff in me. It was fascinating to view some of America’s major historical events through the eyes of the Schneider/Snider family. Even better was seeing everyday life through their eyes. I would love to have a whole book about Frankie, the numbers whiz who runs the numbers game in her Brooklyn neighborhood in 1928. She’s smart, funny, and a math whiz. A female math whiz in a book is a rare occurrence. Plus, she is the world’s biggest Dodgers fan. My female sports fans need a book with a spunky heroine like Frankie. And the setting, with NY’s mob bosses and underground gambling rings? Fascinating.

I am looking forward to booktalking this one to my class. It’s got everything- sports, history, humor, adventure, strong characters, and Brooklyn. I have a class this year that is full of Brooklyn pride, so this will definitely appeal to them. I have a feeling more than a few of them will be buying their own copy, so that they don’t have to wait to read mine.

If you haven’t read The Brooklyn Nine yet, be sure to pick it up in your local bookstore. It’s just that good!