Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Outcasts United (2012)

Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team. Warren St. John. 2012. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I did not know what to expect from Outcasts United. On the one hand, I do not like sports--watching sports or reading about sports. On the other hand, I do like compelling personal accounts, people working, struggling, hoping, believing. The hero of Outcasts United is Luma Mufleh, a woman soccer coach. Mufleh was born and raised in Jordan; she came to the United States for college and decided that this is where she wanted to live. Staying in the U.S. meant breaking apart the family, and angering her family. But she'd had a taste of freedom, and wanted more. She knew it would be work, work, work. She knew it would not be easy, but she knew this would be her best chance. This isn't her story alone, it is the story of lives touching and connecting--immigrant stories. Readers learn a handful of stories about boys mainly, these are those Luma came to know in her role as coach. She wasn't just teaching soccer, she was also teaching discipline, self-control, responsibility, and respect.

Mufleh's three teams are mentioned: her under 17, her under 15, and her under 13 teams. But for the most part, it is the two younger teams that are the focus of the book. The book highlights specific players from specific seasons of the game.

This one has a definite sports emphasis. It is a book dedicated to the sport of soccer. If you have zero interest in that subject, you may or may not get enough satisfaction from the other stories. I liked some chapters better than others.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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