Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review: Outcasts United

Title Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town
Author Warren St. John
Rating ****1/2
Tags non-fiction, soccer, refugees, georgia 

What a splendid book! My book club read it, and it makes a great companion to a book we read a few months ago, Three Cups of Tea. They are entirely different stories, but share teaching what is happening in other parts of the world and in being uplifting stories of what people are doing to create positive change.

It is the story of Luma Mufleh, who was born and grew up in a loving family in Jordan, yet a family that expected Luma to follow tradition. After coming to the United States to attend college, she did not return to Jordan, knowing that she could not be a part of the traditions. She wound up in metro Atlanta, Georgia, and while driving through Clarkston, a suburb, she saw a group of refugee boys playing soccer. She had been a soccer coach and became the coach to the refugee boys.

Besides telling Luma's story, St. John tells the stories of many of the refugee families: the horrors from which they fled, and the painful adjustments to living in Clarkston, usually living in poverty in a high-crime area in a totally new culture. The author also tells the story of the older inhabitants of Clarkston, who saw their typical small Southern town change drastically with the influx of refugees from all over the world.

Luma, with little compensation, became coach to three different boys' soccer teams, the Under 17s, the Under 15s, and the Under 13s. The teams took the name Fugees, short for refugees. Each had its unique challenges and strengths.

Sports is not, generally, a subject I care about at all, which I blame on growing up in Alabama when Bear Bryant was God. And yet I thorougly enjoyed this book and its stories of people living with great challenges but making something strong and courageous out of them.

Highly recommended.

Publication Spiegel & Grau (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication date 2009
ISBN 0385522037 / 9780385522038

Posted via web from reannon's posterous

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