Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Wait Until Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
272 pages
Published June 1998 by Simon Schuster Adult
Source: My dad loaned this one to me

Doris Kearns Goodwin grew up in a suburb of New York City in the years immediately following World War II. Unlike so many suburbs that sprouted up after the war, Rockville Centre had been incorporated more than 100 years earlier, giving it a feel that those rapidly rising suburbs could never hope to have. The houses in Kearns Goodwin’s neighborhood were “so close to one another that they functioned almost as a single home.”

 On the corner of the residential area lay a group of stores the likes of which is extraordinarily rare these days. There was a drugstore, a butcher shop, a soda shop, a delicatessen, and a barber shop/beauty parlor. Kearns Goodwin writes “the shopkeepers were as much a part of my daily life as the families who lived on my street.” The families didn’t just hand down clothes and toys from their own older children to the younger ones, they passed them from house to house.

New York, in those days, boasted three major league baseball teams. As they were throughout the city, team loyalties were divided in Kearns Goodwin’s neighborhood, loyalties that families carried with them from their boroughs of origin with the Bronx being the home of the Yankees, Manhattan the home of the Giants and Brooklyn being the home of the Dodgers. These loyalties were passed from generation to generation and Kearns Goodwin’s father passed to her his passion for the Dodgers, even teaching her to keep a score book when she was only six years old. She would spend her afternoons listening to the games on the family’s Philco radio and keeping score so that she could replay the entire game for her father after dinner that evening.

Kearns Goodwin intermingles the histories of the teams and players with stories of life in the suburbs from the late 1940’s through the 1950’s when life began to change—the corner stores were driven out of business and the neighbors began moving away. Kearns Goodwin writes of growing up watching the color barrier being broken in baseball when her beloved Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers, watching the McCarthy hearings on television, learning what to do in case of a nuclear attack, becoming aware of the growing civil rights movement, and of watching both the Dodgers and the Giants leave New York.

Kearns Goodwin writes beautifully. I felt as though I were sitting with her listening to her tell me of that long ago time. The book wasn’t entirely what I expected. I had imagined the book to have even more to do with her love of the Dodgers and her father and less to do with the rest of her life. Although she has included detailed accounts of many games, which I often skimmed over, overall Kearns Goodwin does a marvelous job of combining American history, baseball, and her own personal memoir in a book that is charming and nostalgic.

Okay, Mom--I know you're out there, lurking! You and Dad should really send me your impressions so I can let everyone know what you thought of this as well.


  1. This sounds SO interesting! And I've been trying to read more sports-y books too. So thanks for reviewing it. :)

  2. I really enjoyed the book, partly because I love sports and have a fondness for the Dodgers. But the book was well written and I got a real view of Brooklyn and of
    Goodwin's life. I highly recommend it--and I even read the details of the games. Loved the history bits but then I love history and things about it.


  3. This sounds good, maybe a book I would get for my dad and then borrow,lol

  4. This sounds so wonderful. Makes me wish I lived there.

  5. Your mom is a lurker!! it!! This sounds great. I love reading nostalgic books about America!

  6. See, I knew my mom waslurking! I also knew she loved the book so I wasn't taking much of a chance when I asked her to comment.

  7. I haven't read this book, although I am a fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin (and, dare I say, the Red Sox!!)

    How great that your mom came out of hiding to share her thoughts :)

  8. That is so awesome this book came from your dad! I love it when friends give book recommendations.

    Now I see The Youve Got Mail Reading Challenge on your blog.... I just watched that movie last night....oh oh.... have to check it out :)

  9. I love this book and have been eager to read your review of it, which was really good and captured the essential magic of it. Beyond the magic, why do I love it? For several reasons.

    First, Doris Kearns Goodwin is a wonderful writer and historian and I've enjoyed everything she's written. Second, we're a bb-loving family and I learned a lot about the golden age of bb by reading this book--also, my older siblings were young when Doris was young, and it's neat to read about how the world was when they were green.

    Finally, this is the book on which my daughter finally learned to read. She always struggled with reading, hated it, etc. But in 6th grade had to do a book report, so I handed her this book because she LOVES baseball. She was skeptical at first, but gave it a go...and loved it. Read it three times, and still considers it the best book ever written.

  10. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  11. Wow, this sounds good! I like that life is intertwined with sports in this book, so well. It sounds lovely :-) I like the era a lot, too!