Book Review: One Goal

One Goal: A Coach, A Team, and the Game that Brought A Divided Town Together
Amy Bass

From Kirkus Reviews:

United by a common dream, high school soccer players overcome racism in a town in Maine.

Lewiston was once a nearly all-white mill town on the verge of economic collapse. Then hundreds of Somali refugees poured into the city, creating new growth in the community. Despite racial tensions, the Somalis forged ahead, with their youth leading the way on and off the soccer field. With the help of the high school soccer coach and his assistants, the team led the school to its first state championship in 2015. Bass (History/Coll. of New Rochelle) delivers a lively, informative, and entertaining account of the years leading up to the game, and she includes in-depth coverage of the players and their respective refugee stories, the coach and his assistants, and the overall state of racism in Maine and across the U.S. Minute-by-minute descriptions of the games build tension as the team steadily progresses from a devastating defeat to their ultimate victory. The back stories of the Somali refugees are often heart rending and brutal, but they also demonstrate an awe-inspiring resilience. The concern of the people of Lewiston, who helped integrate the refugees into the community, offers hope and guidance to those who also face a steady influx of immigrants. This is a multi-tiered underdog story that skillfully blends elements of human compassion, passion for a sport, determination, and endurance with overtones of societal pressure and racism. It’s an exhilarating narrative that shows how perseverance and the ability to disregard the narrow-mindedness of xenophobia can lead to victory. “The team’s success embodies a negotiation between an immigrant community and its chosen home,” writes the author, “an often difficult conversation about language, religion, culture, education, and family.”

An edifying and adrenaline-charged tale of how immigrant soccer players were able to translate “tight-knit family and community connection to success on the field.”

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