The Keeper: Soccer, Me, and the Law That Changed Women’s Lives

Avery. Sept. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9780593539187. pap. $27. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Ervick’s (The Bitter Life of Bozena Nemcova: A Biographical Collage) valiant graphic novel is at once a memoir that details her experience in girls’ club soccer in the 1980s and a grander historical review of women in soccer (from feminist teams of the late 1800s to the popularity of the women’s World Cup in recent decades), sprinkled with literary reflections on goalkeeping. Ervick’s personal story is at the heart of the book. Born close to the passing of Title IX in the United States, which prohibited sex-based discrimination in educational programs (and, by extension, athletics), Ervick lived the changes of second-wave feminism through her youth. Though Ervick’s own experience is compelling, the tone of her book is difficult to define. The exponential rise of women’s soccer in recent decades is a breathtaking victory, but Ervick’s angle feels elegiac, a paean to earlier heroes who missed their chance at glory. Ervick’s art draws on scrapbook-style illustrations that add to the feeling of reflection and memory and slow the pace of the winding narrative to a crawl.
VERDICT Rich with informational content and flashes of brilliance, Ervick’s graphic novel is thoughtful and personal, best suited for an audience interested in the topics of athletics and feminism that it delves so deeply into.
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