This was a wonderful journalistic view of the smallish town of Clarkson, Georgia USA, a strong-hearted woman called Luma Mufleh, and a soccer team called "The Fugees" (for refugees -- the kids named themselves.) But as with all good journalism, it's about so much more. It tells us about America via the microcosm of one team in one town.
Reading it gave me a better understanding the spirit of refugees to America, the many ways they get here and the difficulties they face once here. It's also a great view of the strength and fortitude of these families - not only in fleeing their homes but in being able to stay afloat once settled, and how long settlement can take. And finally it's a great story of an awesome bunch of kids, who aren't always winners or easy, but they are always kids -- and kids who have seen some tough things. Kids, in other words, who desperately need soccer.
There are also nods to all of the other things inherent in the US: class, race, nationalism, power-hungry city councils, and everything else. Some hilarity and heartbreak and through it all kids being kids.
I got a good impression of the team's founder and coach, Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian woman who literally dedicated her life to Clarkston’s refugee children and their families. I have a good impression of her. She is fiercely independent and private. I have a feeling it may have been difficult to even write about the team, so kudos to Warren St. John who not only got in to get the story, but clearly went far further than "just the facts, ma'am" here -- he made friends, and if you read this, you might feel like you have made some friends too.
I just learned that a children's book has been written by the author, which is wonderful. I look forward to reading that one too.