Book review: Forward: A Memoir, by Abby Wambach

Wambach, Abby. Forward: A Memoir. Dey Street Books, 2016. HC. $26.99. ISBN 978-0062466983.

Since I generally don’t follow team sports, I confess my awareness of Abby Wambach was pretty slim until recently. Not so arguably, she is the greatest professional female soccer player in history, and this revealing autobiography shows us that she is also a compelling writer. Her life has been filled with athletic triumphs and personal demons a-plenty, and she shares her story in gripping fashion.

Wambach’s storied soccer career led her to multiple Olympic gold medals and FIFA Women’s World Cup titles, the achievement of which she portrays engrossingly, and she offers sobering descriptions of the various serious injuries endured along the way. Her sincere passion for the game helped her survive the years of physical and psychological sacrifice.

Her off-field life has been eventful as well. Wambach’s penchant for excessive drinking led to a DUI arrest in 2016, after which she tapped into her strength and innate competitiveness in order to beat her addiction. After several failed relationships, she married fellow soccer player Sarah Huffman in 2013, but their union also became troubled, and Wambach concludes her story with uncertainty regarding their future together. (They are now divorced and Wambach recently began a relationship with author Glennon Doyle Melton.) She retired from professional soccer in 2015, and currently works for philanthropic and civil rights causes, among other activities.

Wambach writes compellingly, with at times searing honesty when describing her chronic issues with self-worth, her physical injuries, and the many low points of both her athletic and personal lives. Her memoir’s chosen title Forward, is indeed appropriate, as it denotes both her position on soccer teams, and her determination to continue growing and flourishing—-aka, moving “forward”—-as a citizen of the world, regardless of challenges.

This book is recommended for general biography, sports, and LGBT collections. I may not have “known” Abby Wambach all that well before, but I’m grateful that’s no longer the case.

Cathy Ritchie

Materials & Collection Management

Dallas (TX) Public Library

 

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