Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women by Roseanne Montillo was a book that caught my eye instantly when I saw it on Blogging For Books. A story about women changing what being feminine means? While they did something previously reserved for men? A tale of disaster and recovery and perseverance? Sign me up!
I wanted to love Fire on the Track. But the way the author told the story just didn’t capture my attention. Based on the book’s description I expected a story focused on Betty Robinson. Robinson was a rising track star when the plane she was in crashed, severely injuring her legs. I expected a story about her early rise, the crash, and her return to the Olympics in 1936. The story Montillo tells instead is the story of several female track and field athletes during the time Robinson was an athlete. She weaves the women’s stories together in a loosely connected way over 251 pages.
The length of Fire on the Track, combined with the number of athletes being covered, makes me feel I missed a lot of the story. Montillo doesn’t seem to spend enough time with any one woman. As a result, I don’t find myself engaged in their struggles. I wonder if this book would be better for people who come in with more knowledge of the women. I could see it being a great way to connect their stories.
Fire on the Track has a high rating on GoodReads (3.93/5) and Amazon (4.2/5). This makes me think that there’s something about the writing style that’s appealing to most people, even if it falls into the category of “not for me.” I’d recommend it to those interested in women’s rights, history, and athletics.
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women from BloggingForBooks.com. Amazon links are affiliate links.