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Boys Get Some Love From Missouri

Posted May 24th, 2011 in book review by steve

That headline could probably be read numerous ways…

But the way I want you to read it is this: The Daniel Boone Regional Library System in Missouri released their “OneRead”, the book chosen to be promoted for reading through the community. That book wasn’t Boys, it was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which seems to be on everybody’s reading list lately. But Boys made it to the Suggested Titles list, along with better known books such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Blink, and Eat, Pray, Love. I’m always thrilled when librarians give me some love (which can be read anyway you like).

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New Q and A on A Pretty Move

Posted September 27th, 2010 in book review by steve

The folks at A Pretty Move, who ran a review of Boys in the summer, have returned with a Q and A about the book and my writing process. Follow the link here:

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New Review

Posted September 7th, 2010 in book review by steve

New review by Sean Morris of the Camp Verde Arizona Bugle.

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Review at Welcome to the House of Soccer

Posted July 15th, 2010 in book review by steve

Brian O’Connell wrote a wonderful review of Boys on his site, Welcome to the House of Soccer. Some highlights:

“This isn’t your typical story about a team overcoming the towering hurdles. It isn’t a tale about underdogs. It isn’t about winning. It isn’t about all of the tired sports cliches that we’re bombarded with on a regular basis.

“Rather, it’s an introspective tale about very real people whose lives happen to bisect on the soccer field. It’s about how they learn from each other. It’s about reconciling one’s past. It’s about personal demons. It’s about how some stories don’t have neat and tidy endings. Some stories simply leave you with the characters as they are: unfinished works.”

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New review at Jared Montz Soccer

Posted June 4th, 2010 in book review by steve

Boys was reviewed at Jared Montz Soccer by Tim Patterson:

Let me tell you a bit about my life. Friday Night Lights is my favorite movie. Friday Night Lights is my favorite TV show (now that LOST is dead). Friday Night Lights, the book that inspired producer Peter Berg and audiences across the country, is one of my favorite reads.  Soccer, however, is my favorite sport.

Lucky for me, Jared was able to form a quick bond between my favorite things by plopping The Little Boys from Mexico into my lap.”

The Little Boys from Mexico crisscrosses and documents the tales of soccer, education, immigration, and high school in rural Oregon.  Instead of focusing exclusively on soccer and its counterparts, author Steve Wilson weaves in “how immigration has changed the town’s school system, and how the boys struggle to achieve success at home, school, and on the pitch. The Little Boys from Mexico also focuses on two players and their relationships with a foster parent and the team’s white coach.”  While Friday Night Lights is scrutinized under a microscope as a small town that lives, breathes, and bleeds high school football, this book examines the less popular sport of fútbol and the core group of teammates that fight battles on and off the pitch, sometimes without the support of their own families.

The book is easy to read and even easier to relate to.  Characters named Octavio, Angel, Carlos, and Martin seem like my best friends after only a few chapters.  I’ve played against predominantly Hispanic soccer clubs and have been able to maintain several causal, but long relationships with some of their players.  I remember meeting a poverty stricken goalkeeper, George, who I conversed with before, after, and even during games.  I’m sad to report that Hispanics are met with negative stereotypes in Texas, but at least a few of my teammates and myself have seen these individuals as competitive and hardworking soccer players, not criminal undocumented immigrants.

My only complaint is the misleading depiction of Jesuit High School, the so-called “bad guys” of the story.  Wilson asserts that Jesuit has the pick of the litter of all Oregon teenage soccer players, selecting the best and brightest for their championship team.  While this claim may hold some validity, I, a recent graduate of Dallas Jesuit, find this hard to believe.  Jesuit admits students based on academic performance and the potential for individual and spiritual development.

I don’t want to delve too deep into the raw passion, challenges, heartbreak, and the “Believe in it!” mentality of Los Perros’ 2005 tumultuous season.  That’s a journey for you the reader to undertake yourself.

See it here:

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Upcoming free book contest w Jared Montz

Posted June 4th, 2010 in book review, youth soccer by steve

Jared Montz, ex professional soccer player and the owner of America’s First Online Soccer Academy, will release a review of Boys this week. He’s also holding a contest for his readers–winner gets a free signed copy of the book!

Jared has got an interesting website worth a visit. The timeline showing his rise from youth soccer player to professional, and his subsequent decline due to multiple injuries, surgeries, and ongoing physical therapy is worth the visit alone, showing  how talent and hard work  are often not enough to keep professional athletes on the field. You also need luck.

After his professional career ended, Jared reinvented himself as a coach and businessman. He runs soccer camps, his online academy, blogs and writes about soccer. A busy guy. Check out his site here:

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Review in Oregonian newspaper

Posted June 4th, 2010 in book review by steve

Review by Jeff Baker on Oregonlive:

Steve Wilson said he first read about Woodburn soccer in a Lake Oswego newspaper that described Lakeridge High School’s 2004 boys playoff game at Woodburn as a trip “to an exotic and frightening new country.”

“It was obviously a culture clash — white kids in a white state going to a place where they were in the minority,” he said, “and I wondered what it was like when you flipped it around. Everywhere the Hispanic kids go, they are the minority. The cultural issues interested me.”

Lakeridge won that game in 2004, one of many playoff disappointments for Woodburn. The Bulldogs are a boys soccer power who have made the playoffs every year since 1986 but have never won the state championship. Wilson, a freelance writer who makes his living as a private investigator, started visiting Woodburn in the summer of 2005, hanging around the soccer team known informally as “Los Perros.” He kept coming back, building relationships and following the team while gathering material for his new book “The Boys From Little Mexico: A Season Chasing the American Dream.”

Woodburn is a fascinating place, about 30 miles from Portland and best known for the giant outlet mall off Interstate 5. Off the freeway, the city has a string of taquerias downtown and an economy built around farming and nurseries. Its population is more than 50 percent Hispanic, and it has a large population of Russians who settled there in the 1950s and ’60s. The sport of choice is soccer, and kids play in leagues and in pickup games, where they develop their quickness and ball skills.

Wilson said there was some initial hesitation toward him from people who saw him as another outsider there to study the different culture.

“They’re tired of being looked at like lab rats,” he said. “I tried to find my place in the community and what my role would be. The more time I spent there, the more comfortable everyone became until I really was the proverbial fly on the wall.”

As access and trust increased, Wilson found himself facing tough choices. He wanted to tell the story of the team and its players, but some of what he learned could harm them. Some of them were undocumented and many were minors who were opening up their lives to someone who was writing a book.

“They were telling me things they shouldn’t, and I had to be careful with that,” he said.

Wilson changed the names of some of the students and was careful to protect their privacy. He said the racist perception of Hispanic teenage boys as “uneducated, lazy thieves” is inaccurate, and he wanted to show how “the differences between them and the white kids are far fewer than the similarities.”

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