Friday, September 24, 2010
Outcasts United by Warren St. John
I read this book because it was chosen for the One Maryland One Book program for 2010. Outcasts United is supposedly being made into a movie, and I can see why; it's super heartwarming. It's about a kids soccer team called "The Fugees" that is a lifeline to many refugee kids from other countries. Fugees is simply short for "Refugees," and is not named after the formerly-popular hip hop group. The town of Clarkston, Georgia has had a complex influx of refugees from many countries since the 1990's. Here's a video link on Luma Mufleh, the Jordanian woman who took these kids in hand and got them a soccer program, just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. This book came out of a popular series of articles in the NY Times, and so it's written in a journalism style--it's not the great American novel, but I didn't care. I listened to the book and found it easy to follow, despite the fact that it often digresses to highlight the backstory of a particular child and their family. All the children are from war-torn countries and situations, and many have endured great hardship. The book starts out at the very beginning of this now-successful soccer program, and takes you through their early struggles, including just trying to get the right to play on a safe plot of unused grass built for games such as soccer. Here's a link to the Fugees organization with a touching short video showing the beautiful faces of the boys on the team. Here's another link to a couple of good youtube videos by the author. I don't even know how to play soccer, and I still liked this book!