This presents itself as a novel about the beautiful game. However, it is a story about much more than football; it’s one of loss, betrayal, love, family ties and politics in an ever-changing and increasingly volatile country and is a truly compelling read.
The first part of the book switches between the present day with the reader’s introduction to Renaldo and his family before delving back into his family history and the reason he comes to be living in Argentina and is probably the most interesting section as the reader discovers the twists and turns that befall the different generations of the family.
The remainder of the book focuses on Renaldo’s fledgling introduction to the national football team and we witness his rise to stardom in stark contrast to the fortunes of his older brother Lonfranco, who finds himself under the spell of a woman who belongs to a dissident terrorist group, intent on causing havoc ahead of the impending World Cup by any means necessary.
This is a really long book, which at times, begins to feel a little over written in places. Similarly, while the descriptions of the World Cup games are an integral part of the storyline, the language used in the description can become repetitive and over-embellished. For example, towards the phrase ‘powder white and blue’ to describe the team kit becomes tiresome and you begin to wish the author would simply refer to the ball, rather than the ‘orb’ or ‘sphere’. The ending, after such a long storyline, is also a little abrupt.
That said, this is a book you find yourself continually wanting to pick up to find out what will happen next and overall, is highly recommended!