The World Cup is in full swing, and even though the U.S. has been eliminated (boo!) after surprising everyone by making it out of the group stages (yay!), it’s still an exciting time in sports. Even people who normally don’t care (or pretend not to care) about soccer are invested. So I thought I would pull together a great list of books and movies that focus on soccer or feature soccer players in honor of the World Cup 2014!
High and Dry, by Sarah Skilton – What do you get when you combine noir mystery, drug scandals, ex-girlfriends, and a star soccer player? You get High and Dry by Sarah Skilton. When Charlie Dixon, desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend, gets framed for causing a drug overdose at a party, he quickly finds himself embroiled in mystery after mystery, and scandal after scandal. Between trying to find another ex-girlfriend’s stolen flash drive, being pressured by a friend into throwing a soccer game, and trying to discover what did happen the night he was framed, Charlie has a lot on his mind. As a narrator, Charlie’s voice is distinct and appealing, and the excitement of High and Dry will keep you turning pages.
Bend it Like Beckham – Yes, this is super obvious, but who cares? Bend it Like Beckham is one of my favorite movies. It’s fantastic, combining friendship, relationships, family drama, classic coming-of-age, and all the excitement of a great sports movie. Jess loves soccer, but when she joins a serious team in her suburban London neighborhood, her love of the sport comes into conflict with her traditional family, and her feelings for her new soccer coach comes into conflict with her new best friend’s feelings for him. Although I personally love the focus on Jess and Jules’ friendship, there’s something here for everyone, no matter what you normally like in a movie. This movie has it all and I highly recommend it!
Out of Nowhere, Maria Padian – Star soccer player Tom Bouchard barely notices when Somali refugees start flooding into his hometown after the events of 9/11. But when four of them join his soccer team, he starts to notice. Especially when Saeed starts dominating play and leading the team to victory. But when Tom finds himself performing community service by tutoring some of the refugees, he gains a new perspective. Tom must navigate his girlfriend, his budding friendship with Saeed despite his jealousy about the new player’s talent, his new cultural education, and of course, his on-field performance.
Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor – Sunny lives an in-between life. She loves soccer, but her albinism means she can’t face the sun to play it. She lives in Nigeria with Nigerian parents, but her American birth and upbringing make her feel like she is not at home. She is African, but her albino white skin makes her subject to taunts at her school. So when she discovers previously unknown magical talents, and a group of young magic-users all learning to use their skills, with her Sunny is excited to find a place where she belongs. But as her knowledge increases, so do the dangers of the magical world she is now a part of. Akata Witch is a hugely imaginative, exciting read, and Sunny is a releatable and likable main character.
She’s the Man – I pretty unashamedly love this movie, even as an adult. Amanda Bynes is at her charming best. The fun Shakespeare plot line is a classic for a reason. The addition of a pre-21 Jump Street Channing Tatum and exciting soccer sequences complete the package. When Viola finds out that her high school soccer team is being disbanded because of funding issues, she fights for her right to play on the boys’ team. When she is denied that, she disguises herself and takes her twin brother’s place at an all-male boarding school, planning to prove that girls can play the sport just as well as boys. Being a Shakespeare comedy plot, of course hijinks ensue, and they are delightful. Seriously, this movie is just cheerful, entertaining fun, perfect for a hot summer afternoon!