Pizzini’s funny novel about suburban life reveals the down-and-dirty world of girls’ soccer.
The world of girls’ intramural soccer has never been so cutthroat and politicized. Jack Gordon is an average family man, an even-keeled guy who works too much and has ambitions of becoming a partner at the Philadelphia law firm where he works. On a whim, he signs up his daughter, Emily, for soccer, unaware that he’s about to be drawn into a world of intrigue, lies and manipulation. On the sidelines, Jack meets Steve, another dad and an ally who knows how to navigate the local soccer scene. The cast includes soccer mom Patricia Drummond, intent on making her daughter a star athlete, and ineffectual coach Gus, who stacks his team with the best players, which doesn’t happen to include Emily. Playing out in the domestic world of dinner parties, cocktails, marital spats and soccer games, Pizzini does a remarkable job of limning everyday suburban life and creating believable characters. Yet the novel’s scope is a bit narrow. The trials and tribulations of the suburban soccer world Jack must navigate wear a bit thin, leaving the reader wanting a little more depth and variation of plot. Yet the second half picks up as Jack’s family drama takes precedence over sports. When Emily doesn’t make the all-star game, after steadily improving her game and earning a spot, Jack takes it hard and hires Emily a personal coach. Pressures at work certainly don’t help. Overall, the more interesting plot points of the novel get sidelined for the sake of the game.
A comedic, heartfelt novel that limits its own field of play.