Review: Solo: A Memoir of Hope by Hope Solo

Product Details

  • File Size: 1566 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (August 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • ASIN: B007BCG9N2
  • Genre:  Memoir


“My family doesn’t do happy endings. We do sad endings or frustrating endings or no endings at all. We are hardwired to expect the next interruption or disappearance or broken promise.”

Hope Solo is the face of the modern female athlete. She is fearless, outspoken, and the best in the world at what she does: protecting the goal of the U.S. women’s soccer team. Her outsized talent has led her to the pinnacle of her sport—the Olympics and the World Cup—and made her into an international celebrity who is just as likely to appear on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars as she is on the covers of Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, and Vogue. But her journey—which began in Richland, Washington, where she was raised by her strong-willed mother on the scorched earth of defunct nuclear testing sites—is similarly haunted by the fallout of her family history. Her father, a philanderer and con man, was convicted of embezzlement when Solo was an infant. She lost touch with him as he drifted out of prison and into homelessness. By the time they reunited, years later, in the parking lot of a grocery store, she was an All-American goalkeeper at the University of Washington and already a budding prospect for the U.S. national team. He was living in the woods.

Despite harboring serious doubts even about the provenance of her father’s last name (and her own), Solo embraces him as fiercely as she pursues her dreams of being a world-class soccer player. When those dreams are threatened by her standing within the national team, as when she was famously benched in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup after four shutouts and spoke her piece publicly, we see a woman of uncompromising independence and hard-won perseverance navigate the petty backlash against her. For the first time, she tells her version of that controversial episode, and offers with it a full understanding of her hard-scrabble life.

Moving, sometimes shocking, Solo is a portrait of an athlete finding redemption. This is the Hope Solo whom few have ever glimpsed.

My Review:

This is a book that shares very intimate details of the struggles Hope experiences from childhood through adulthood.  I must admit that not being an avid soccer fan, I had never heard of Hope Solo before Dancing with the Stars.  When I saw how Hope was portrayed on the show as very defensive to criticism, it just seemed in stark contrast to the jovial look I saw on her face when the soccer team for TEAM USA won gold.  This is why I purchased her memoir. I wanted to know what was underneath all the costumes, whether soccer or dance, and learn more about her.

Hope Solo’s memoir bares it all on the floor for you to see. She shares every triumph, challenge, and personal journey through it all.  As I was reading the book, I not only learned more about her, but also about the sport of soccer.  It was amazing to see the hurdles she had to literally jump, the criticism she had to take from the national team under Greg Ryan‘s leadership, and how a woman must still break barriers to be successful.

Contrary to the media and all the hype her book has received for “throwing ‘so-and-so’ under the bus”, this is about Hope’s journey…nothing else.  There is no hidden agenda in this book, she isn’t trying to make anyone out to be the “bad guy”, nor is she trying to justify her own actions.  She is who she is and she gives it all to her readers….take it or leave it, you will walk away with a better understanding of the person behind the accomplishments and criticisms that come with it.

I walked away from this book with so much respect and admiration for a young woman who defied what critics had said, what statistics said based on her family issues and where she lived, and what others in her sport had expected her to be.  Hope is not a “solo” act. She depended on her family for emotional strength and on her body for physical strength.  She depended on her team to do their job and wanted them to know they could depend on her.  Hope lives in a man’s world of sports, but through her sport and experience, she has allowed other young dreamers to follow in her place.  The goalie position, known as the unpopular place soccer players want to be….Hope made it the place that demanded respect and deserved it.

She may come across as tough, uncaring, and she is when she needs to be.  However, she is also very sensitive and loves to laugh, be with those who enjoy life, and who know that she is more than a soccer player…she is a woman with heart and passion.  This is a book I highly recommend for anyone who wants to be inspired, who has been told “no” one to many times, and who obviously loves soccer.  However, more than that, this is book that deserves to be read because it’s got pure heart and she holds nothing back.

Meaningful quotes that I loved:

” ‘Hope is, by definition, defiant.  It is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.’ ” (p. 31)

“….my goalkeeper coach, Amy, handed me a note that said, ‘A goalkeeper cannot win a game.  A goalkeeper saves it.’ ”  (p. 95)

“Only a daughter cries like that for her father.’ ” (p.124)

“Out on the field, I put my right hand over my heart for the national anthem and held my left glove carefully by my side.  When I walked into the goal, I made the sign of the cross, kissed my closed fist, then opened my glove and let the ashes drop, saying a little prayer to myself.” (p.141)

“I was far beyond caring who judged how I celebrated something I had worked for my entire life.  Never again would I worry about what others thought.”  (p.184)

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