Review of Three Strike Summer

Three Strike Summer Three Strike Summer
by Skyler Schrempp
Intermediate    McElderry    320 pp.    g
8/22    978-1-5344-9914-0    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-9916-4    $10.99

Evicted from their Oklahoma farm in the midst of the Dust Bowl, the Willard family strikes out for California looking for work as migrant pickers. Scrappy Gloria Mae, the youngest child, tells the story, and Schrempp admirably never wavers from her perspective. Not fully understanding the scope of their circumstances, Gloria resents the move and the loss of all she knows, particularly her dream of playing baseball. She’s good enough; even Pa admits, “You got the arm of a boy twice your size.” When they arrive at a California peach orchard, they encounter despicable conditions: an unsafe working environment, low pay, squalid housing, and long hours. To quash dissent, managers intimidate the workers, forbidding group meetings, locking down the compound, and increasing police presence. For Gloria these are only background issues (she thinks that the forbidden “organizing” has something to do with arranging peaches); she has discovered the existence of a baseball team at the orchard and vows to play. After a child is seriously injured in the orchard, Pa, who previously avoided all conflict, now believes that a strike is the only option for better working conditions. Gloria’s struggles to join the team and her father’s desire for change coalesce in Ma’s words: “When you don’t fight for what you deserve, the world just digs its heel into you a little bit more.” An informative author’s note adds historical context.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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