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A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America Hardcover – September 5, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cuadros, an investigative reporter of Peruvian descent, set out to write a book on the "Latino Diaspora" in the southeast but decided to tell the story through the Mexican high school soccer players of Siler City, N.C.—whose team Cuadros himself lobbied for against the resistance and overt prejudice within this old-boy "football town." The players' thwarted ambition and punitive social hurdles encapsulate the plight of Latino immigrants who flock to rural hamlets seeking better lives and steady work but run up against palpable fear and suspicion in towns that still faintly reek of Jim Crow hostility. The Siler City team's struggles bring the town conflicts into sharp relief and give Cuadros a sturdy framework for exploring meaty issues of class and ethnic conflict. In alternating terse and tender prose, he delves into his players' backstories and captures their buoyant camaraderie to shape an inspiring underdog's tale without romanticizing the team's painful immigrant realities, such as their parents' shaky health insurance and high school drop-out rates. This feel-good read coincides neatly with the start of a new school year, staking its faith on fresh starts. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Cuadros, a reporter, went to Siler City, North Carolina, to investigate the changes wrought by Latinos arriving to work in small-town poultry-processing plants. He became part of the story when he lobbied Jordan-Matthews High School to create a team for its soccer-loving Latino youth. Three seasons later, he had coached the Jets to a state championship. The engaging tale of the team's climb to the top also provides a lens through which to view the challenges of assimilation. The Jets encounter well-funded white teams, racist rednecks, and a few teams that look just like them. And just as many in the town begrudge the students' right to attend school, many in the school begrudge their right to share the hallowed football field. Cuadros' prose can be a bit overreaching, but as he touts the revitalizing effect of Siler City's newest residents, he offers genuine insight. In particular, his account of a student who crosses the border illegally to return to the team reminds us how important it is to truly understand where kids are coming from. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rayo; First Edition edition (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061120278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061120275
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,506,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jerrold Levine on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A Home on the Field

"That which hath been is that which shall be...And there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes I:9

Assimilation of new Americans can be a slow difficult process. But it is not a new process. And while Congress and the country debate immigration issues, hopefully they may look to Siler City and see how a town and a team came together and learned how to share.

In early 2000 a group of Latino high school students in Siler City, NC (population 8,000) petitioned to start a soccer team. The locals were skeptical. "What is this sport, and what are they doing on our football field, which is sacred ground?" In the end the students won a state championship and found A Home on the Field. They are striving to find a home in America too.

For the past 15 years this country has been experiencing a silent migration of Mexicans and other Latin Americans into the interior of the country, finding jobs at places like the chicken processing plant in Siler City. Author Paul Cuadros (son of Peruvian immigrants) blames the migration in part on NAFTA which allowed the Mexican state run economy to procure heavily subsidized American corn to feed their poor, displacing Mexican farmers. Cuadros also blames Mexico and its ruling class for never really providing adequate education or meaningful jobs to create a middle class from the poor.

Inevitably, the population moves to greater opportunities. This has been the story of U.S. immigration since its founding. But the old ties don't break easily. They never do. The immigrant workers still remain largely isolated by language and culture from mainstream American society.

Cuadros points out that while he was born a minority, he will not die one.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting book but the reason why is a bit illusive. The first page and the author's background indicate that it should be about immigration policy. The title and the bulk of the read say that it is about soccer. And buried in the story is the role of high school sports in shaping young peoples' lives and the debate about the relative roles of club soccer and high school soccer in developing the game in the United States. The game may be different, but the stories of the boys and how they formed a winning team is similar for instance to the stories told about boys in "Friday Night Lights." A select few become high school sports stars in a small town and on a state championship team, with all the notoriety that entails. However, one key difference is that although the boys grow up, go to school and live lives of American high school students until they graduate (or drop out), then they must blend into the faceless mass of illegals without the opportunities or rights that their fellow graduates have. Caudros explains the reason 12 million illegal immigrants are here as he humanizes the problem. It should be clear by now that these persons are not leaving 12 million citizens unemployed or even underemployed. The jobs in poultry and meat processing are not being filled and need the influx of illegal workers. Further, the companies operating the plants are eager and willing employers of the illegal immigrants. The illegal workers pay taxes, shop in the local stores, and worship in the town's churches. Deporting all the illegals described here could have a disastrous impact on a community like Siler City. The stories told here - and the facts presented - need to become part of any discussion of immigration policy and what we will do about 12 million workers and their families. This book should be on the top of any list dealing with immigration policy.
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Format: Paperback
Remarkable and well-written story of Latino high school students who win the North Carolina state soccer championship. Let me underscore that it's good sports writing, as well as reasonable social analysis. The author is both the coach of the team and a magazine reporter. White supremacists are sure not to like this book, as klansman David Duke himself denounced these kids. The story of "Los Jets" will win the hearts of all real Americans, just as they won the struggle against racism and poverty.
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Format: Paperback
..........................Cuadros Discovers New Ground.

Written by me elsewhere, last year, 2008: Here is news of a book that may be the most important book ever to come out of my county Chatham: ...I recommend "A Home on the Field" by Paul Cuadros, as a refreshing change from the usual diet of postmodern ennui.... "A Home on the Field": On the surface it's the story of a high school soccer team; beyond that it's a story of the Latino Diaspora now taking place. The novelistic structure of the book follows the rule that says, "Leave out the parts that people would like to skip." ... The teenagers in this story are not media-defined, iPod-enclosed teens; these guys are more like something out of Cormac McCarthy. Paul Cuadros is a good writer; he got there first on a lot of topics with this book, topics that are hot in a lot of places like Siler City, North Carolina.
...The fact that the publisher, HarperCollins, has allowed my copy of the book to be riddled with so many typos only seems to enhance it's value as artifact. I once considered HarperCollins to be a big New York publisher; the story of how this publication came to be in such rough shape is something in itself I'd pay to know. ...The book has so far been flying beneath the radar, the reasons why are in themselves part of the fascination. The conservatives, sure, that's easy to understand. But a lot of liberals around here are missing it, too. I suspect they may be reading too much Lolita in Tehran--in other words too tuned in to the world media picture. The old cliché about Chapel Hill, where UNC is located, (and by extension, next door here in suburban north Chatham) still holds true: it's still a place where well-heeled liberals can go, read the New York Times and ignore local issues.
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