I first picked up a copy of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette? because my sister told me to. She picked it up because John Green told her to. He had named it one of his favorite books that year, and as a fan of his work, my sister listened. Green, the writer of beautiful and sharp young adult books such as The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska (he's also got a fantastic educational series with his brother Hank called "Crash Course" that I adore), was someone you could trust when it came to book recommendations.
Which is why, a few weeks ago, I lost my mind when I saw John pick up a copy of ONE GOAL at the book table at the Institute for Public Knowledge's day-long session on the World Cup. John had been the closer of the day of panels talking about soccer, chatting with Men in Blazers extraordinaire Rog Bennett about his love of the game (I'd been much earlier in the day, paired with Frank Foer and George Quraishi to discuss the impact the U.S. men failing to qualify). John and Rog were delightful -- sharing stories and barbs and their deep-seeded obsessions with soccer.
But when John strolled over to the book table and grabbed a copy of ONE GOAL? I couldn't breathe. Somewhere, I found the will to walk over and point at the book in his hand and say -- and I quote -- "I'm kind of freaking out that you're holding my book." He was lovely about it. He told me that he'd heard of the book and was really looking forward to reading it. And then....he asked me to sign it. Yep. Me. Signed a book. For John Green.
Flash forward a few weeks, and we are deep into the World Cup and John Green is tweeting about soccer with wit and passion. And then....he tweeted about ONE GOAL. And then....he posted about ONE GOAL on his Facebook page. And then....I freaked out again.
My one goal has been to get this story about this town and this team into the hands of as many people as possible; to offer a cautionary tale of hope and dreams and realities in this time of so much rage and hate and pain. To find, as one character says, a "we" in this moment.
A shout out from John Green can't hurt.