RAPINOE, MEGAN with BROCKES, EMMA. One Life. Penguin Publishing. 11/2020. $27.00. Hardcover. 9781984881168
By now you know who she is, but you may not know where she comes from, or all of the work she is doing off the field. Megan Rapinoe has become a household name, but she doesn’t only want you to think of her as that pink-haired lesbian who scores lots of goals (though she is and does), and this book serves to tell people not only of her own life story but of the issues that have propelled her further into the spotlight.
For the all the “Go Gays!” and soccer highlights you’re expecting, this book also tackles issues of racial injustice, poverty, incarceration, activism, feminism, equity, and the power of celebrity. Rapinoe addresses every topic with tact and compassion, managing to convey the salient points without condescending to a readership that perhaps won’t be as versed in those topics as she is. One Life also offers a glimpse into her childhood, her relationships with her siblings and other relatives, how those relationships have evolved as she herself has been shone on by the brightest spotlight in our culture (read: Celebrity), her ascension through the world of women’s soccer, and of course how she met and fell in love with Sue Bird.
One of Rapinoe’s great strengths lies in the fact that she addresses her privilege not as a means to avoid having the conversation, as is often done by white people (in an “I’m white and have privilege: let’s move on as though I’ve actually interrogated the way those things have affected what you’re going to read here” kind of way), but as an entry point to amplify the issues. As a white woman celebrity, she has a box that others don’t always have access to stand on. And the fact that she is able both to address that box, speak from it, but also acknowledge that it’s her responsibility to allows others to step up onto it as well, was a subtle needle to thread and is done well. Throughout, you remember that for all of her privilege, she is also an out lesbian woman in the public eye, who is politically vocal, and suffers the consequences of speaking from that identity and in that space.
The book comes to an end just as the rest of the world came to a stand-still – at the beginning of March. It brings into focus the immediacy of the issues she discusses and reminds you that there is a common thread that can be drawn between us.
This is a great book for sports fans, for members of the queer community, for emerging activists and for anyone curious about the world of women’s sports. Read it for the way it addresses real issues, for the insight into Megan’s own life and process, for the drama of being a professional soccer player who is undervalued in the sports world, and of course for the gays.
Nadia M Sahi