You had me at “soccer”

It’s been years since I actually played soccer and I’m not sure playing goalie (no one else would do it) on my high school team in the early days after it became a varsity sport for females in our school system would really qualify it as soccer. Especially when you’ve seen the progression in skill and explosion in popularity in soccer since that time. Remember Bend it Like Beckam (2002)? Yeah, not like that. But, I did love that movie.

Much of this June and early July had me glued to my television and the 2019 Women’s World Cup coverage. Here in Canada, we had extended coverage and insightful analysis from a panel of female retired players on one of our sports networks that definitely added to the experience. Obviously Canada versus any other team was required viewing and after Canada’s unfortunate early departure in the round of 16, my support reluctantly switched to the American team partly in solidarity with their class action suit against USA Soccer and those crazy tweets, and partly because (damn it) they were so exciting to watch. It was also neat watching the retrospective look at the 1999 World Cup and hearing the players’ recollections.

On the day of the gold medal game I found myself on a pre-booked city tour (luckily enough one of those hop on/hop off tours) in Pittsburgh where I was sightseeing in advance of this year’s annual GCLS conference with some friends. I was tempted to get off the bus at a neighbourhood park we passed by that was all set up for the community to watch the game – lawn chairs, big screen and refreshment tables …. We did manage to hop off a little later for adult beverages and fortunately caught the second half that fortunately featured all the scoring.

I’ll admit that I do a little happy smile when I notice a new sports related story and in my humble opinion there are far too few for my liking (hint, hint). In advance of this blog I did my usual search and well with the exception of some rather questionable “soccer mom” offerings I was surprised there weren’t more soccer themed stories. That said, there are some that I really enjoyed and wanted to share. And, you don’t need to know a lot about soccer to enjoy them.

81VRZ4ifN+L._AC_UL436_.jpgIn addition to Beautiful Game (2011) Kate Christie has a soccer series Girls of Summer (2016 – 2019) which follows Emma Blakeley and Jaimie Maxwell from the time they meet as teenagers at an out of town soccer tournament through the trials and tribulations of life, love and high level soccer. As is the usual case for a Kate Christie book these are all well written, insightful and well researched. I absolutely loved following these two. Book five was just released and although Emma and Jaimie seem to have finally found themselves together along with their championship I’m hoping a sixth book is in the works – there’s the 2016 Olympics after all.

I didn’t know what to expect from Wendy Temple’s Defensive Mindset (2017) but I am so 81h4OUdKQtL._AC_UL436_.jpgpleased that I didn’t pass on this book. The book starts with the inauspicious first contact between the two main characters: Jessie Grainger (one of those nice, perfect overachiever types) and Fran Docherty (bad girl, silent type with an attitude and mysterious past). The next season Jessie and Fran find themselves on the same Edinburgh football/soccer club as reluctant teammates. I liked that this was well researched, or at the least written by someone with more than a passing knowledge of the game and the psychology of sport, yet the reader is not bogged down with technical aspects. The soccer scenes are an essential foundation of this edgy and at times dark novel and are nicely entwined with off the pitch scenes between the two main characters that couldn’t be more different – one of the best opposites attract stories I’ve read in a long time. I found myself not only rooting for the two of them but the team in its quest for the league championship.

816M00Nd7JL._AC_UL436_.jpgA lighter, fun read is Catherine Lane’s The Set Piece (2015). Amy Kimball, a former collegiate soccer player, is down on her luck and when she gets an offer she can’t refuse finds herself the fake fiancée of professional soccer player Diego Torres who is mired in a scoring slump. Diego is receiving some disturbing photographs that could blast him right out of the closet and lucrative endorsement deals. All seems to be on the upswing until Amy sparks fly with Diego’s personal assistant Casey Palmer, former collegiate soccer star who lost her shot at the national team with a career ending injury. All of a sudden things get a lot more complicated. Catherine also recently released a football based novel Romancing the Kicker that is well worth reading.

As I mentioned, there are fewer titles about soccer than I would expect. Others in my collection include Island Skye (Book 1, 2016) and The Aisle and Skye (Book 2, 2017) by Fox Brison, and Sofi Keren’s short novel Painted Over (2019).

As usual, I’m sure I’m missing others with this list – if you know of any please share with us all in the comments area.

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8 comments

  1. Whacked by Josie Gordon, Off Pitch by Brianna Kienitz, Stranded by Blayne Cooper, She’s My Ride Home by Jackie Bushore, Rocks and Stars by Sam Ledel and Full of Promise by Kate Gavin are more lesbian soccer books.

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    • Thanks, I’ve got Off Pitch queued and I had forgotten Stranded which is a shame because I really enjoyed it as well as She’s My Ride Home. I’ll have to check the others out.

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  2. Danielle,

    I am absolutely thrilled you shared your collection of book favorites about soccer. I had no idea about some of these books. I’m going to get them ASAP. I too am frustrated about the lack of women’s sports included books. I love reading about the action of the game or the tension during the championship, or even the buildup of the perfect season. It’s all about a double entendre of the romance taking place between the two main Chars, right? Well, now I have to do some research on my own. I’m sure there are others out there. Goodreads says they have 102 lesbian sports-themed books awaiting my pleasure to read. WOW, just about every sport known to women. They list everything from competitive mountain biking, tennis, rodeo bull riding, sailing, NASCAR, Football, rollerblading, surfing, marathon running, golf, and more. Oh and a few footballers (soccer) books too. I’m in. Just be careful about the difference between Football and footballer. That American tweak to the ponds separation. I did run my mouse over a few books that showed Soccer on the cover. Beautiful Game by Kate Christie (it has 4 stars). The Princess Deception by Nell Stark (4 stars and this looks fun). There are so many tennis and swimming and baseball books. Come on authors. Mix it up a bit. I remember playing soccer and defending my goal and diving onto the ball. That sweet smell of grass and the power kick as I sent the ball soaring. Love it. Gonna go find your books Danielle and read them all.

    JLNicky

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    • Hi, I’m going to have do a better search on Goodreads if they say there are 102 lesbian sports-themed books out there – but I’m thinking that if I kept better records I probably could come up with close to that number when I think about it. I highly recommend all of Kate Christie’s books including the soccer series. The Princess Deception was fun but neither of the female MC’s are actually soccer players (just a heads up). Sounds like you have a lot of reading in your future.

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  3. I’ve loved Kate Christie’s stories and the authenticity of her soccer action as well. I haven’t read your other two suggestions! I need to go into retirement so I have more time for all this reading!

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  4. Erin, as you know “there’s no life like it” 🙂 I think you’ll enjoy both of them. I also really enjoyed Fox Brison’s two book series.

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  5. Great article! I’m reading and utterly loving Kate Christine’s soccer series right now… Emotional!
    But, I’d like to put in a word for ‘To Have Loved and Lost’ by Eliza Andrews, which features a star Basketball player, (a sport about which I know next to nothing, being British) but is also about grief and guilt and love and how to make life work despite all the negatives. Eliza Andrews is a brilliant writer, who never fails to move and enthral me with her writing. She writes about the sports convincingly too, I think! 😉

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