Arshay Cooper: A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America’s First All-Black High School Rowing Team (A Wilmette Public Library event)

Wilmette Public Library will present its first-ever virtual author event when Arshay Cooper discusses his inspiring memoir, A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America’s First All-Black High School Rowing Team. The program will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, October 21, at 7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Those interested in attending may register here. Members of the Zoom audience will be invited to submit questions to the author during the program.

The library holds multiple copies of A Most Beautiful Thing in a variety of formats. To reserve a copy of the book, visit the library catalog or call the library at 847.256.5025. Those who prefer to purchase a copy of the book are encouraged to do so from Semicolon, Chicago’s only black, female-owned bookstore. Community members who purchase a copy of the book from Semicolon will receive a bookplate signed by the author. Books can be purchased via Semicolon’s website or by emailing We are proud to help support our fellow indie bookshop!

In addition to the author event, the library will host two virtual book discussions featuring A Most Beautiful Thing. Led by librarians via Zoom, the discussions will take place Tuesday, October 13, at 7 p.m., and Thursday, October 15, at 10:30a.m. Registration is available online or by calling the library.

About the Book:   Growing up on Chicago's Westside in the 90's, Arshay Cooper knows the harder side of life. The street corners are full of gangs, the hallways of his apartment complex are haunted by drug addicts he calls "zombies" with strung out arms, clutching at him as he passes by. His mother is a recovering addict, and his three siblings all sleep in a one room apartment, a small infantry against the war zone on the street below.

Arshay keeps to himself, preferring to write poetry about the girl he has a crush on, and spends his school days in the home-ec kitchen dreaming of becoming a chef. And then one day as he's walking out of school he notices a boat in the school lunchroom, and a poster that reads "Join the Crew Team".

Having no idea what the sport of crew is, Arshay decides to take a chance. This decision to join is one that will forever change his life, and those of his fellow teammates. As Arshay and his teammates begin to come together to learn how to row--many never having been in water before--the sport takes them from the mean streets of Chicago, to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League. But Arshay and his teammates face adversity at every turn, from racism, gang violence, and a sport that has never seen anyone like them before.

A Most Beautiful Thing is the inspiring true story about the most unlikely band of brothers that form a family, and forever change a sport and their lives for the better.

About the Author:  Arshay Cooper is a rower, author, motivational speaker, and volunteer for numerous community outreach organizations. He works with nonprofits focusing on opening the boathouse doors to everyone, and he was the recipient of a 2017 US Rowing Golden Oars Award. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.



Event date: 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Event address: 

Online Zoom event!
A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America's First All-Black High School Rowing Team Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250754769
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Flatiron Books - June 30th, 2020

Now a documentary narrated by Common, produced by Grant Hill, Dwyane Wade, and 9th Wonder, from filmmaker Mary Mazzio

The moving true story of a group of young men growing up on Chicago's West side who form the first all-black high school rowing team in the nation, and in doing so not only transform a sport, but their lives.