Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Outcasts United

Each year the Connections Program on campus picks a book for the year.  This year it is "Outcasts United" by Warren St. John.  It is about a small town, Clarkston, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta that has become the home of refugees from no less than 50 different countries.  Many are driven from their homes due to the violence there and know little English if any.  They have come to the country legally and try to find their way in a new and strange land in a town that has difficulty accepting the forced change in their home.

The story is about the young boys who come together playing soccer.  There is hope and encouragement throughout, but there is also a disturbing look at a complicated life.  I can't help but think what I would do if placed in the same situation.  Not that of the boys playing soccer, but of the residents of Clarkston.  Their quite little all-American town changed right before their eyes in a matter of 10 years or so.  People from all different nationalities complete with authentic dress, became part of the everyday scenery.  It made them uncomfortable and a lot of the residents chose to hide from rather than embrace the change.

I couldn't help but think of my last ward.  The Riverwalk apartments were included in the ward boundaries.  There was a family from Burma that spoke the Karen language.  Do you know how hard it is to find someone that speaks Karen?  Let's just say we spend a lot of time smiling and gesturing.  I didn't realize it until this book that they were also part of the refugee relocation program.  They had originally been placed in the Salt Lake area where they joined the church.  Now they are in Logan trying to find their way in this new life.  How am I going to react?

Our neighborhood has a lot of non-caucasions.  The Soccer World Cup brought out Brazilian flags and cheers from around the neighborhood.  Some from El Salvador, some from Mexico, and of course Brazil.  The United States, even in little Logan, Utah is becoming more diverse with each passing year.  Are you going to embrace the change and help those going through it, or run and hide behind closed doors and hope to wake up one day and find it all gone?

Something to think about.

Story line:  Excellent.  Hope, tenderness, tough love.
Language: Clean actually. The coach allows no swearing on the team. Two f-bombs in quotes though.
Difficult/adult content: minimum.  Some stories of the team members past are difficult but nothing scaring.


  1. Awww, the riverwalk apartments!

    i want to read that book!

  2. yeah, awww Riverwalk. Fistfighting mothers, second-hand smoke at night... those were the days. You would enjoy the book.