cover image The Keeper

The Keeper

Kelcey Ervick. Avery, $20 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-53918-7

Ervick (The Bitter Life of Bozena Nemcova) volleys an ebullient celebration of girls’ soccer that blends personal memoir and sports history into a work of disarming emotional power. In the 1980s as a goalkeeper for her youth team, Ervic makes it to nationals and develops a lifelong passion. “On the soccer field we were free to be tough, be aggressive, and be powerful,” she writes, recalling her coming-of-age soccer days as a kaleidoscope of camaraderie, competition, road trips, and friendships. She also notes unequal treatment and sexist questions from reporters. In the present, Ervick’s made the transition from soccer player to soccer mom, and unpacks the context of being in that first generation of American girls to grow up under Title IX, back through the history of women’s sports and early “lady footballers.” Her loose, colorful artwork, open page layouts, and lighthearted use of collage elements—vintage photos, clippings from her teenage diaries—create a casual style that belies the book’s fierce intelligence. Like the best sports books, it’s really about life: she gets into feminism, freedom, art, women’s bodies, and the loneliness of the goalkeeper (she quotes from fellow keepers Camus and Nabokov). The result’s a winning argument for women’s sports as a gateway to freedom and self-determination. Agent: Susan Canavan, Waxman Literary Agency (Sept.)