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Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  7,443 ratings  ·  1,096 reviews
The extraordinary story of a refugee football team and the transformation of a small American town.

Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement centre in the 1990s, becoming home to scores of families in flight from the world's war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston's streets were filled
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published April 23rd 2009 by Spiegel & Grau (first published 2009)
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Debe This book explores the importance of service and engagement in a community, difficulties and benefits of diversity, the importance of mentors, and eco…moreThis book explores the importance of service and engagement in a community, difficulties and benefits of diversity, the importance of mentors, and economic opportunities that arise from immigration among other themes with the joy and sorrow of playing soccer running throughout the book. Lots to talk about. It's a good 'community' read.(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  7,443 ratings  ·  1,096 reviews

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Bill Kerwin

Perhaps I rate 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 a
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jennifer Jones
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
"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
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I truly only chose this because it was one of the summer reading options for our high school and this is what my sons both chose. The theme for this year is the immigrant experience, a topic about which I’ve read a ton, but not much non-fiction.
This is an inspiring and unusual story because it covers a small American town with a huge influx of refugees from all over the world. They share no common language or culture, just trauma and displacement. The issues facing both the immigrants and the t
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Deacon Tom F
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Celebration of Life

i really loved this book. For me, it shows how we could and should treat refugees. Bonding on their common love of soccer, these boys stayed out of trouble in a gang neighborhood and improved in academics. All because a coach had a dream.

This would make a great movie!!!
Richie Partington
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie’s Picks: OUTCASTS UNITED: THE STORY OF A REFUGEE SOCCER TEAM THAT CHANGED A TOWN by Warren St. John, Delacorte, September 2012, 240p., ISBN: 978-0-385-74194-1

“There he was with his immigration face
Giving me a paper chase
But the sun was coming
Cos all at once he looked into my space
And stamped a number over my face
And he sent me running”
-- Graham Nash/David Crosby, “Immigration Man”

“Before tryouts began, the boys seemed puzzled. Where, they wondered, was the coach? Luma was right in front o
Nov 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Leigh Collazo
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it

Hundreds more reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.

REVIEW: Well wasn't this a nice little surprise? I really did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I only read it because it's on our Battle of the Books list, and I signed up to write the questions for this book. I signed up back in September and have been putting it off ever since. Now, it's February, and I know someone will come calling for the questions any day now. Time to get started!

Outcasts United is written so that it's easy to get in
Kathy Scantle
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readin2013
I did not know what to expect from Outcasts United. On the one hand, I do not like sports--watching sports or reading about sports. On the other hand, I do like compelling personal accounts, people working, struggling, hoping, believing. The hero of Outcasts United is Luma Mufleh, a woman soccer coach. Mufleh was born and raised in Jordan; she came to the United States for college and decided that this is where she wanted to live. Staying in the U.S. meant breaking apart the family, and angering ...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
Jacob Clark
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a true inspirational story of Middle Eastern refugees in a small town in Georgia who share a love for the same sport. Their coach, Luma, is Middle Eastern herself and can speak many of the languages that the players speak. Luma inspires the players to work hard, do good in school, and stay out of trouble while still having fun as a team.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic, ya, sports
I've spent my career (thus far) connecting with "young people." Attempting to meet kids and teens where they are and show them how the public library can be relevant to them in their actual lives.

So, this book was fascinating to me. The author apparently spent time observing and interviewing an early-aughts season of one soccer coach in Georgia. We meet many of the kids on the three different teams ("under 13s," "under 15s," and "under 17s") Luma Mufleh coached, learn their stories, and watch t
Simon Lapscher
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so amazing and it warmed my heart a lot. Even though this book took me a bit longer to finish I still loved it, it showed an amazing story of friendships being formed, families being helped or saved from bad situations and getting a better life. This book is so heartwarming and it gives me hope that even though bad situations good things can happen and it can cause a ripple of goodness to happen. This book makes me want to meet the coach and the first teammates. Overall this book w ...more
Carter Stagner
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
(I read the “young readers” version)

This book was about a soccer club named the Fugees in Clarkston, Georgia. There are 3 age groups. The under 13’s, the under 15’s, and the under 17’s. The main character is Luma. She coaches for the club and she’s the only coach. The club is meant for refugees.

The main things I like about this book is that it was about soccer, refugees, and it was set in Georgia (which is where I live). I liked the main character, Luma. I partly liked how it was non-fiction be
Maricruz Bravo
Oct 07, 2009 marked it as to-read
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
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Excellent. Though the author did not tie up all of the loose ends that I felt could have been tied up, this book was wonderful.
Ethan Kulinski
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the midst of a time where refugees can be attached to countless negative reputations, Outcasts United by Warren St. John shines light on the gritty and sometimes relentless experience of young refugees. The story begins with Luma Mufleh, a native of Jordan, who previously decided that she would spend the rest of her life in Georgia. Although you may expect a book with the cover of a boy’s soccer team to depict the times of athletes, it’s much more than that.

Instead of falling into the cate
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me feel like a spoiled first world moron, some of the time. Because I have so much, and most of the people in Outcasts United have nothing. I know the pain of being separated from my family and living in a foreign country, but I also know that I can call anyone in my family at any time, and could get on a plane tomorrow and go and see them, if I needed to. Refugees don't have that - they are completely cut off from their home countries by war, dictators, and the fact that for many ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The middle school I work in chose this to be the summer reading book, and unfortunately I think that purpose for reading affected my enjoyment of the book. If I had read it on my own, maybe I would have given it 3 stars, or at least 2.5, because I can understand and appreciate the nuances of immigrants fitting in to American society/culture and the social commentary that Warren St. John creates by telling this story. However, reading it with the lens of whether or not middle schoolers would enjo ...more
Tyler Doliber
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Outcasts United is a story about a misfit, rag-tag team of refugee kids coming from places far and wide, trying to escape war torn and poor countries, each one of the kids on the team has a unique backstory of where they came from. Some came from countries that were attacked by corrupt government officials that used the them as slaves. Their families, looking for new hope, move to America through a refugee agency and are taken to Clarkston, Georgia, once a prominent white town now houses a mult ...more
Doug Beatty
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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Warren St. John is a former reporter for the The New York Times. He also has written extensively for The New Yorker, the New York Observer, and "Wired." He attended Columbia University and now lives in New York City.

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