Thursday, June 13, 2013

Backlist Files - "Let Me Play"

I am not a sporty adult, and I never played school sports (unless marching band counts, which it totally should), but growing up, I tried to take advantage of sporting opportunities that were available to me. I played elementary age soccer, the only girl on an all-boy team. When I got older, I was a short-stop for my town’s softball league. As I got older, and school (and band) took precedence, sports were phased out of my life, though I remain a fan. Every two years I go all out cheering for athletes competing in the Olympic Games, winter and summer, and last year it was especially sweet watching the London 2012 Games, having read Karen Blumenthal’s Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America, and realizing all that had to happen so that women like Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings could have their day in the sun.

Let me get one thing out of the way right off the bat: this is a book about politics, not sports. Anyone going in to this book expecting to read inspiring stories of female athletes will be largely disappointed. What you get instead is a historical portrait of the grueling political process that eventually made Title IX possible. Blumenthal gives great attention to leaders in the fight for equal rights, including Edith Green and Patsy Mink, and does through some ink in the direction of leading athletes like Billie Jean King. Hard facts are well sourced and though the text has the tendency to get dry at times, the tone remains light, held up by numerous archival photographs and editorial cartoons. Let Me Play is an engaging work of non-fiction, offering a view of the political victory that helped change not only women’s involvement in sports, but education and the workplace as well.

I recommend that you know what you’re getting into before you get into it, because if politics bore you, this might not be the book for you. But if you’re interested in glimpsing a part of American history that laid the framework for the lives of millions of girls and women, this little book will do the trick.

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal
2005, Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Library copy

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