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Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  2,987 ratings  ·  599 reviews
The extraordinary tale of a refugee youth soccer team and the transformation of a small American town

Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston’
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Spiegel & Grau (first published 2009)
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I am not a fan of soccer, but I picked this book up based solely on my fondness for Warren St. John (author of Rammer JammerYellow Hammer). This story of Luma Mufleh, a native of Jordan, and the Fugees, her soccer teams comprised of boys whose families fled to the United States from across the war-tattered globe, transcends any sport that might have served as the catalyst for their coming together.

Clarkston, Georgia is one of several US cities in which refugees are relocated, and Outcasts Unite
Bill  Kerwin

Perhaps I rated this book too low. It is a heartwarming sports story about a rag-tag group of misfits, facing extraordinary obstacles, who are molded by a stern but loving misfit coach into a disciplined and successful organization. Since my favorite forms of literature are Jacobean revenge plays, dark fantasy, and Edwardian ghost stories, this is not exactly the ideal book for me.

The high school where I work made me read it. The administration—along with the administrations of over 40 colleges
If Disney got its hands on this would, the script would look a lot like a true-story Bad News Bears or Mighty Ducks or Major League. Rag-tag Bunch of Misfit Kids Ruffle the Establishment and Win the Championship. Fortunately, that's not actually what this book is about. And fortunately (as far as I know) Disney doesn't yet have its hands on this one.

What makes the book engaging is that it presents several good narratives. The author is at his best in presenting the social turmoil brought about i
"Regardless if you love soccer (or even really understand the game fully) you will enjoy this book. The book follows a youth soccer league made up of resettled refugees in Georgia, but it's really not that simple. Yes, you will learn a lot about soccer -- but you become aware of much more than that. How a small white, Southern town deals with an influx of refugees from conflict zones from around the world. What life was like in the war zones, refugee camps and other places people traveled throug ...more
Working with clients has been a 20-year challenge during which I created an analogy comparing a soccer team to a public relations team, a device for clients to comprehend that it takes both sides to achieve a goal. I had little interest in soccer until Frank Reiss, owner of A Cappella Books, suggested I obtain a review copy of a book about the Fugees, a soccer team just outside of Atlanta.

In “Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town,” Warren St. John, a New York Times reporter (on sale
Since I tend to read most books about soccer that I happen to hear about, this much buzzed-about book eventually made it to the top of my pile. Even then I shied away from it for a while, since I'm leery of books that are described as "inspirational." Nonetheless, I eventually cracked the spine, and discovered that it's that rare breed of book that's both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because it actually is kind of inspirational and will open the reader's eye to the daunting financial ...more
Griffen Moore
This book is about a refuge soccer team who have moved from war torn countries and are living and learning in America. These kids go through the adversity of gangs, poverty, and missing parents but they still come together and make something incredible happen. I really enjoyed the book once I read the entire thing. At first reading it I was bored how they kept the story dragging by going into depth of each team member’s family for an entire chapter and not just telling the story as a team. But a ...more
Maricruz Bravo
Maricruz Bravo
Prof. Shannon Scott
GT 1000

The novel by Warren St. John “Outcast United” is a story of a refugee boy’s soccer team and their coach, Luma Mufleh, a refugee from Jordan. Luma is characterized by her determination to make the boys succeed as a team. Her determination may sometimes be confused with toughness and insensible traits, but deep inside her she has a soft and tender heart whose only purpose is to make the boys happy and successful as persons and soccer players. The stor
Mariana D'apuzzo
Mariana D’Apuzzo
Prof. Shannon Scott

Outcast United represents the integration of different identities in the multi-cultured city of Clarkston. As a uniquely multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural association of people, Clarkston has reasons to be troubled by the urgency of intolerance4 and to consider its role in combating it. This merging comes with different consequences. Not only is it the fact that they get to know and learn from each other, but also it is the fact th
Elias Polonsky
“Outcast United” it s a really good book and I enjoyed reading it. For me it’s a book that teaches us many important things about life, and shows us also how the society that we live in is. It also teaches us how to make our own decision as Luma did in the book. We are in a stage that we don’t know what we want about life, and fro the most of us is first time that we have to make our own decisions. It also teaches us that no matter what you have to be happy in what you are doing. As many freshm ...more
Simon Lapscher
Oct 06, 2009 Simon Lapscher rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Simon by: Teacher
This book is based in Clarkston, a small town in the outskirt of Atlanta, GA. In a seemingly fictional story, “Outcast United” tells the story of a group of newly arrived refugees, which have been relocated in this small town after having gone through horrible war and persecution nightmares in their home land. It takes us on a journey that shows us the insight of the immigrant’s world; what they feel, how they are treated and what they do to move forward, starting from scratch and with a disadva ...more
Kathy Scantle
I loved this book, especially since I am familiar with the story. I met the main character, Luma, once and could tell right away she has a profound impact on the refugees she works with. Luma is from an aristocratic family in Jordan. She came to the USA for college. After she graduated from Smith college, she decided she wanted to stay. Her parents were very upset (her father disowned her) but later those wounds were healed. Fate brought Luma to Clarkston, Georgia, a small southern town outside ...more
Patti from Charlotte
Having lived in Clarkston, Georgia, the setting of the book, for several years in the early 1980's and having been a 'soccer mom' for the better part of the last ten years as well, this book 'spoke' to me on many natural levels. However, the depth of the story extended far, far beyond those simple parameters and to the many backstories of Luma Mufleh and the refugee families that she encountered during her own exodus from her native land. Never again will I sit on the sidelines of a soccer game ...more
In Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town, author Warren St. John superbly draws on his journalistic skills to create a fast-paced and unbiased portrayal of one season in the life of a team of refugee children. Sports stories aren’t my normal reading fare, but I loved this book.

I appreciate that Warren St. John wrote with the objectivity I would expect from a professional journalist. When describing refugee families new to Clarkston, Georgia, St. John shared enou
Immigrants from the world's latest conflicts settle, at least for a little while, in a suburb of Atlanta called Clarkston. They're from every part of Africa, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan. Luma, a Jordanian woman educated in the U.S., leaves her other work to coach three teams of pre-teen and teen boys at soccer. The teams are called the Fugees (as in "refugees").

Large parts of the book (though it's a very fast read) are play-by-play details of games and scrimmages, and descriptions of what

A feel good story about refugees coming together while playing soccer sounds trite, but in Outcasts United Warren St. John manages to show enough of everyone's rough edges to bring out a great story.* A Jordanian woman, Luma Mufleh, came to Clarkston, Georgia and created soccer teams for boys composed of the rapidly growing refugee population there in the small town South. The story avoids sappiness or oversimplification.

There is no climax per se, but
This is a true story about a refugee soccer team in suburban Atlanta. It really makes you think about multi-culturalism, as this community is undergoing such an intense transition. While some of the residents of the community were completely closed to change, some people were resistant to change because they were never included in the discussion about how to bring refugees into their community. They did become more open over time, but you had to wonder if it would have been a smoother transition ...more
Jennifer Jones
Though an extremely original idea for a book, St. John does only a mediocre job of capturing the lives, trials, and tribulations of a group of young immigrant boys living in Clarkston, Georgia. Living near Clarkston myself, perhaps my opinion is tainted by the grim realities of Clarkston. But, I felt the book could have been extraordinary with better writing and stronger character development. Outcasts United is the story of struggling immigrants escaping brutalities, war, and persecution in the ...more
I love any book that has to do with refugees and refugee resettlement and when you add a feel good, against-all-odds sports story, you know it's going to be a winner. Add some good musical background and there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house.

This book told the story of a soccer team of refugees from all over the world and the struggles they faced in order to become a team. The parts I found the most interesting were in the dynamic between the refugees and the people of the small town of Clar
Doug Beatty
I read this book for the maryland One Mayland One Book campaign. I was pleasantly suprised. I thought it was going to be more about soccer and I am not a sports fan. But although it was a bit about soccer, there was enough description to keep me involved but not too much to lose me.

What the book was really about was a woman from Jordan named Luma who comes to this country and only wants to play or coach soccer. She moves to a small town in Georgia that is home to communities of refugees from al
This might be my favorite book of 2009 so far! I loved it!

I'm a part time nanny for a great family, and William, the father, is a friend of Warren St. John, the author. William, knowing that I like to read, had offered to lend me this book multiple times and I always sort of said, "sure, it sounds great!" While thinking, eh, it's about soccer, whatever.

I knew that it took place in Atlanta, where I lived until I went to college, and where most of my family still lives, but I had NO IDEA that it's
Most people give this a 4 or 5, so apparently my lesser degree of enthusiasm is not the norm.

There is a lot to like about this book for the first 150 pages or so as the author follows a woman from Jordan who coaches several youth soccer teams made up of immigrants, mostly from Africa, who play more typical youth soccer teams in the Atlanta suburbs. After the first half or so it doesn't introduce anything new and it becomes repetitive, unfortunately. A problem with a book where the author is des
On the surface, this is a story about a woman who decides to coach some kids playing soccer in a small town in Georgia. But it is more complex than that. The woman and the boys she coaches are all immigrants who are adapting to their new lives in a new country--soccer is the tie that binds them and, in a way, is the universal language that unites this diverse group of refugees. It is also about how the arrival of these immigrants impacts the town and its residents, some of whom are willing to em ...more
Jacob Clark
The book was ok it wasn’t the greatest but not the worst. Luma had many difficult challenges in her life she came over here for school. Her family was in jordan living there lifestyle she never left clarkston because of soccer and her hometown. She worked really hard to get where she is today by opening a ice cream parlor, being a waitress, and being a soccer coach. Trying to life her life multitasking
This book follows 3 youth soccer teams composed of resettled refugee children in the Atlanta suburb of Clarkston. I enjoyed certain aspects of the book--particularly the intriguing female Jordanian coach and the account of refugee settlement-- but I constantly felt the focus was out of whack. I wanted more insight into Coach Luma's choices (personal and football-related), more understanding of how the young men and their family members were integrating (or not) into Georgian society, more about ...more
I recently read How Soccer Explains The World, which I found depressing, in that it only seemed to explain the bad things in the world, wars, mobs, racism, bullying...etc. This book has restored a bit of my faith in that other side of organized sports; a chance to push yourself, to be part of a team, to work together for a common goal, to participate in something beautiful when everything around you is hard and ugly. When reading it I remembered being in the Vumba cloud forest of Zimbabwe and be ...more
Jean Doolittle
Outcasts United tells the story of immigrant assimilation into American society--both the hopeful and disturbing elements of our democratic experiment. As the daughter of an immigrant, the wife of a soccer coach and the parent of soccer players, I feel connected to the story at many levels.
When my mother arrived as a small child early in the last century, the world was different than it is now, with different expectations, but the challenges--language, employment, fitting in--all were part of h
Laura Finazzo
I absolutely loved Warren St. John’s Outcasts United. I’m not a soccer fan but that didn’t effect my interest in this story of a soccer team composed of refugees relocated to Clarkston, Georgia in the least. St. John’s narrative follows the real life story of a Jordanian woman, Luma Mufleh, who resettles in America permanently after receiving her undergraduate education at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Luma finds herself down South just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, in a town called Clarkston wh
Brock Gordon
The book Outcasts United, written by Warren St. John, is about an all refugee soccer team located in Clarkston, Georgia. Many refugees that have been forced to leave their home country relocate to the U.S. Clarkston is one of the relocation centers with apartments, schools, and marketplaces located right outside of Atlanta. Due to the rough past of the people forced to move there, they have many problems and bad memories. To keep them out of trouble and give them something to do, the city starte ...more
I believe that the authors main message in Outcasts United is that you can do anything no matter where you start at. I believe that all readers that have read this book would agree that with hard work you will get some where and that you should think that you can't just because of where you come from. This book sets in mostly in the U.S. Where the boys play soccer. Their really is not main character or protagonist, it ends up being more of a full team of refugees that act as one through soccer. ...more
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“Everything in the world starts small and then becomes bigger—except bad things. They start big, and then get smaller.” 10 likes
“The thing I got to thinking about,' he said, 'is--what are the conditions that lead to larger portions of society being generous, humble, and selfless? While we have the conditions for economic opportunity here--and that is a blessing--do we have the conditions to learn how to self-regulate our own passions for the good of the whole?” 2 likes
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