Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review: The Keeper

First of all, I would just like to say that I do not know much about the game of soccer. I love American football with a passion, but have never really developed an interest for watching soccer matches. Also, I do not usually like to read books about sports. So, why did I read a book about the sport of soccer? Well, I am trying to increase the amount of sports lit that I have available in my classroom for my male students (and female students who like to read about sports). This book came to me as part of a grant that I wrote to supply my classroom shelves with books for boys.

Aside from all of this not liking soccer too much, Mal Peet's The Keeper was a pretty engaging tale. I had read his WWII saga Tamar and loved it, so I decided to give this read a chance. It was not bad. There were some pretty interesting details about South African culture and there were even some supernatural twists. Also included was a bit of a mystery centered around a ghost who comes and trains the main character to become an unbelievably successful soccer keeper (or goalie).

The book is framed in a sort of retrospective. Gato, the main character, is being interviewed by a journalist after winning the World Cup (apparently a huge deal). The story goes back and forth between the present and the past. My favorite parts were centered around the environmental issues facing poverty-stricken South Africans who are forced to engage in the clear cutting of their jungle habitat to make money, even though this means a loss of their traditional way of life. I would have loved to have more of the story focus on this issue and less of the soccer, but then it wouldn't be a sports novel.

Overall, this was an entertaining read. I think that some of my boys (and possibly some female students as well) will get into this story. It kept me reading, and that's saying a lot when it comes to a novel about soccer!


  1. As a huge soccer fan, I can tell you the WC is a extremely big deal, haha. Like you, I really haven't (ever?) read a sports novel, so if this remains engaging/entertaining it must be a really well-written one!

    The fact that it deals with real world issues and not just sports is also pretty cool. Nice review~!

  2. I know I have this book and I just realized I haven't ever read it! I have another soccer book but it's about sisters who play soccer...and that one I have read. Way to expand your reading bubble!!!!

  3. My students absolutely love this book. Last year as 6th graders, quite a few of them read it, and then this year a group of about 8 read it as part of a book club. The teacher who was leading the book club had them take pictures of different angles/pieces of a goalie and then they put the pictures along with an inspirational quote from the book on one of the hallway walls. It looked great.

    My students are huge soccer fans, so they could connect to it a lot. I am more like you, I don't really know a whole lot about soccer, but I enjoyed the book.

  4. Like you I am always on the look out for books that will appeal to my boys. Unfortunately, that is sometimes a difficult order since so many books especially YA book focus on female protagonists. I enjoyed this review, and will have to look into reading this one. I really like the idea about the book centering on the environmental issues because I am not much of a sports person either.



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