Monday Chitchat: Guest Post + Review of Solo: A Memoir of Hope by Hope Solo

11:00 PM

You ready for something new? Happy Monday, everyone! One of my best-friend's is here to chitchat about Hope Solo's book Solo: A Memoir of Hope, and why the athlete inspires her so deeply. And why you should be reading her memoir.

Before we get into today's topic of an inspiring athlete's memoirs, I'm going to give you guys a brief update of what you might have missed on Booked J. This weeks wrap-up is, again, quite short, as I've not had much free time on my hands to make any new content aside from a reviews and Top Ten Tuesday.

However, I have a lot of posts planned for this week because of the snowstorm keeping me inside for the better part of my weekend! Including some more reviews, a couple of blog tours and my recent experience with Thrift Books.

Until then, here's the weekly wrap up:

Let's talk about Solo: A Memoir of Hope 
Becca's Rating: ★★★★★ 
You can connect with Becca on Instagram and Twitter.

Everyone that knows me knows that I could never pass up an opportunity to talk about Hope Solo. 

I always get so excited when someone brings her up, because she is a highly influential figure in my life. When Jessica asked me to write a guest piece about Hope's memoir for Booked J, I was thrilled. 

I honestly don't remember what life was like before I became a fan of soccer. It all started while watching The 1999 Women's World Cup. I spent years playing and practicing with friends and loved every second of it. But, it wasn't until around 2005 that my love and passion for the game really grew. 

Up until that point, I didn't really have a favorite player and you wouldn't believe how many people are shocked by that. For me, it was all about watching, and supporting, the team that changed the women's game forever and really put women's soccer on the map. 

You could say I was just reserving the "favorite" title for someone special, and I was. I truly fell in love with this game and everything that it is because of Hope Solo.

Hope Solo possesses world class athleticism and she is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, and for good reason.

On July 9th, 2016, she made history by becoming the first goalkeeper in international football history to earn 100 clean sheets (shutouts) and she made history again less than 2 months later by becoming the first goalkeeper to reach 200 international appearances (CAPS) with their federation. 

She has more caps, wins, clean sheets, and starts than any other goalkeeper in US history. 

During the span of 2000-2016, Hope Solo made 202 appearances for the US Women's National Team. Through the course of those 202 appearances, she was quick to earn 102 shutouts and firmly holds the single-season and career record for most goalkeeper wins at 26 and 153. 

She has the longest undefeated streak by a goalkeeper at 55 consecutive matches spanning from 2002-2008. Hope Solo is, also, a 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist, 2015 World Cup Champion and won back to back Golden Glove awards at the 2011 and 2015 Women's World Cup. In short? She's a total legend in her field.
Solo: A Memoir of Hope showcases her talents as an athlete, but really shines the spotlight on who she is off the field. As a whole, the memoir is honest, raw, sincere, and unapologetic, much like Solo herself. It is an emotional experience, like any good memoir should be.

Hope takes readers through the captivating journey starting from her early childhood in Richland, Washington and tells us of her life through the 2012 Olympics. 

When reading it, it’s almost as if you’re right beside her. You see yourself cheering her on and hoping for the best possible outcome throughout every experience. It's intimate and timely.

However what truly captures you, as a reader, and keeps you going, is Hope’s strength and ability to overcome even the most unimaginable situations. Her voice comes through in the most resilient way that is essential to telling one's life: Solo tells us how she always comes out a stronger, better person in the end, no matter the circumstance.

It also shows us that sometimes, even the most extraordinary amongst us don’t always have the greatest upbringing. One thing's for certain: the road to success certainly is a tough one. You have to posses a certain quality to make it. Fortunately for us all, Hope Solo has that spark to succeed in any circumstance and this alone proves the undying strength of the human spirit. 

Throughout a multitude of adversities she faced growing up and throughout her career, we see these moments of vulnerability as something that ultimately only strengthens her character. In her memoir, she holds nothing back and this shows. 

It's easy to sympathize with her, because we see the many layers to her. This has never been solely about Hope Solo, the public figure known for her outspoken nature and often misconstrued public image. It's all about Hope Solo, the person.

Hope Solo's upbringing and early beginnings:

From a young age, Hope always dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player. Even before there was even a professional soccer league for women, she envisioned herself as one. She excelled at the sport and always knew that soccer was going to be her way out, to be her ticket to college. “My family doesn’t do happy endings. We do sad endings or frustrating endings or no endings at all” she once stated.

It's easy to see why she might feel as such. She's certainly had her fair share of familial struggles.

From growing up without a father in her life for many years, her mother’s battle with alcoholism, to various setbacks and financial struggles, those moments plagued by her concerns about whether or not she would be able to achieve her dreams, career-threatening injuries, being ostracized by her teammates and former coach for her controversial comments about being benched during the World Cup that led to many fans turning their backs on her, Hope speaks about the ups and downs in her life with great emotion.

We see that in high school, her skills foreshadowed her own success: she scored 109 career goals and lead her team to three consecutive league titles. We get to know that she started goalkeeping when she was younger, but that she felt truly free when she was on the field

From an early age, it was obvious where life would take her: Solo is, and always have been, a natural playmaker and goal-scoring machine. 

Interestingly, at the age of 13, coaches had said they’d like to see her with the other goalkeepers. She showed a talent for this, they told her, but it was still her dream to be an attacking player. 
While in college, she switched positions to become a goalkeeper full time. On the topic, we learn that it was a mental adjustment to comprehend her job was to now save games. 

“The personality traits that had been shaped by my childhood --- resilience and toughness --- were assets at the position.” 

It's nice to know that somebody once told Hope that she could be the best at the position. 

She believed them. Even if her dream had changed a little over time, she found a new one and set out to achieve it. Later on in life she would go on to become the best goalkeeper in the world, just as predicted. She did it, because she is capable.

“I have accomplished everything I’ve wanted to accomplish in the game of soccer. I set out to win an Olympics and to win a World Cup, to be the best in the world. This last summer when we won the World Cup, I kind of put my hands up and looked at Jerramy, and I was just like, ‘I could walk away from the game today with no regrets.’ And that’s pretty incredible. I absolutely know that not many athletes are able to say that. So, I’m grateful.”

In short, Solo: A Memoir of Hope is a heart-wrenching, beautiful story of a woman who from a very young age overcame adversity and who never let anyone, or anything, stop her from achieving her dreams. When it seemed as though the world was against her, she never gave up. Hope is not just an athlete with aspirations she achieved--she is an inspiring figure who deserves far more praise than she receives.

The amount of bravery and strength it took to persevere through many of the situations she has faced is unbelievable and ever inspiring. Hope Solo is one of the most admirable women of our generation and this memoir only showcases this fact. This is the woman that you deserve to know.

If I haven't sold you yet:

The unflinching honesty should be enough to draw anyone in, but this book is inspiring, powerful, and moving in more ways than one. For always being portrayed as a villain, you will learn that Hope is the exact opposite. 

Here's what she is: a woman who isn’t afraid of change, who isn’t afraid to be herself, and who isn’t afraid to be honest and stand up for what’s right/what she believes in. Hope Solo has a heart of gold. She is, an athlete, an activist, an inspiration.

I highly recommend her memoir to anyone whether you’re a fan of sports or not. There are many valuable lessons learned that will always stick with you. This book is many parts of what has made, and will always be a part of, Hope Solo's enduring legacy.

“Honestly, legacies are something people realize over time. I can’t tell you what people are going to say what my legacy is. I know what I stood for, I know I never changed who I am."
On A Final Note: 

I want to finish this on a personal note just because Hope Solo really is the most important person to me and I feel like I can’t say enough good things about her. 

From the time I became a fan, I had admired Hope’s honesty more than anything. It’s rare that you meet anyone who isn’t afraid to tell the truth. That has quality has always been so important to me. She's so confident and sure of who she is as a person and being someone who struggled to find my own self confidence, I admired that so much. 

What I learned the most from Hope was to never let anyone stop you from bettering yourself and becoming the person you’ve always dreamed you’ve become. Her strength has always inspired me to keep going whenever things have been tough, and that there is always a light in the darkness. 

Hope is someone who strives to make positive changes in this world, whether it be for herself or for future generations of women in sport. She holds those who've wronged her, or others, accountable for their actions and isn’t afraid to fight for what’s right. She’s driven and hopes for a better future, for everyone and there’s no doubt that she’s on the right side of history and she’s leaving her mark on the women’s game forever. 

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Hope three times through the years and every time has been beyond incredible. I’ve never met someone so appreciative of their fans. If you want to know, further, what kind of person she is, you need to know this: Hope goes out of her way to make sure you feel just as loved and appreciated as you make her feel and every interaction is 100% genuine. She really is the sweetest and most wonderful person that I have ever met, and I will never be able to put into words just how important she is to me, but I’m forever grateful for everything I have ever learned from her.

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