Well, actually, about my girlfriend and her teammates, too, as the book is about her high school volleyball team taking the California State Championship in 1986. (Here’s a contemporary report about the event from the Los Angeles Times that singles (“twinsles?”) out my girlfriend and her twin sister for their efforts.)
My girlfriend found out about this book during a visit to our former high school, and I promptly went into a search for the darned thing, which took me a bit…it’s a self-published tome, and was in seemingly short supply less than two years after its release. I managed to find one seller in Philadelphia who had a copy, and just yesterday it arrived in the mail.
I knew I was in for a good time when I read the first part of the opening line:
“A yellow 1975 Toyota sedan stealth along Oxnard street….”
Yup, that’s “stealth” as a verb, and not a usage with which I am familiar. Also, later on the page the authors make it clear that by “Oxnard street” (capitalization as in the original) they actually meant “Oxnard Boulevard.” BONUS: on the same page a car has a “stirring wheel,” which I guess you use in case you need to do a little cooking on the way to your destination.
So, yeah, this is some book. All the place names remain more or less the same (names of cities, the schools involved, etc.) with the exception of the aforementioned Oxnard Boulevard, while the people all get pseudonyms. The name of our high school’s volleyball coach is so barely changed I wonder why they bothered, and my girlfriend Nora and her sister Maria become “Rosalu” and “Rosalie,” respectively, I think. And before you ask, no, I’m not going to start calling Nora “Rosalu” because she’ll put me in the hospital.
Now I haven’t done more than sort of flip through the book, read a passage or two, and identify a pseudonymous volleyball player here and there (“Oh, ‘Delia’ — that’s Della!”), but Nora’s already endured the whole thing. She informs me there are more typos and instances of questionable continuity to be enjoyed therein, and her response to reading passages about her and her sister’s fictional counterparts was a fairly even mix of bemusement and irritation.
The story of our high school taking the championship that year is a good one, I think, and I can understand the appeal of wanting to tell it. Like the L.A. Times article says, the girls on the team were relatively undersized compared to their much-taller competitors, and their team’s victory was very much Underdogs Achieving Success Against Overwhelming Odds, i.e. Sports Narrative Cliché #1. It doesn’t seem as if this book is the definitive telling of that story, however.
Ah, well. Now, I was actually there for that final game back in ’86, when our high school took that championship. And I attended most of the games leading up to it. And I was friends (or at least acquaintances) with a number of people on the team. And I felt the excitement when our school took the victory. So, maybe, I already have my own definitive telling of this story. And Nora, of course, has her own. How could this book ever compete?