I'll just come out and say it; I truly appreciate how this book was written by a man, as that in and of itself adds a neat component to the complexity of 'The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race'. Author Mike Mizrahi has taken an element from our Nation's history--women riding bicycles--and wrapped within in it various layers that focus on equality. Trailblazers and dissenters collide when Anna Gaines takes up cycling in the 'sleepy' town of Chattanooga. While Anna has confidants in her Aunt Harriet, cousin Oscar, best friend Emma and boardinghouse owner Rose, the rest of the city (and even whispers of it reaching as far as New York) is either up in arms or undecided on how they feel about women taking up cycling. Anna's parents are at odds over their daughter's decision, and even Anna's romantic interest Grover Biggs rarely hides his distain over such brazen independence.
The book doesn't just focus on women riding bicycles, but also touches upon the long hours women worked as seamstresses, and the stark reality of how the first and second generations of freed slaves lived and were treated through the poignant storyline of Hattie and her family.
The final element of the novel adds a layer or mystery and intrigue to the storyline and helps weave the whole book together. Peter Sawyer is an upright citizen, president of the Cycling Club, and owner of the Dry Goods store. Grover Biggs is a rogue from Atlanta who appears to be in Chattanooga for all the wrong reasons and has a very shady past. Throw in the fact Grover is courting Anna, Peter is smitten with her, and Anna can't figure out which one is truly the "knight in shining armor", and you have the makings of a fantastic plot! Mizrahi does a great job of creating a novel that is full of detail without any of it becoming murky or confusing. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to having my teen daughters read it as well.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*