Growing up playing on a top national soccer team in the 1980s, Kelcey Ervick and her teammates didn’t understand the change they represented. Title IX was enacted in 1972 with little fanfare, but to seismic effect; between then and now, girls’ participation in organized sports has exploded more than 1,000 percent. Braiding together personal narrative, pop culture, literature, and history, Ervick tells the story of how her adolescence was shaped by this boom. Ervick also explores her role as a goalkeeper—a position marked by outsider status and observation—and reveals it has drawn some of the most famed writers of our time. With wit and poignant storytelling, The Keeper brings to life forgotten figures who understood the importance of athletics to help women step into their confidence and power—and push for equality. Full of 1980s nostalgia and heart, The Keeper is a celebration of how far we have come and a reminder of how far we have to go.
from Alison Bechdel, author of the New York Times bestselling Fun Home and The Secret to Superhuman Strength: “The Keeper is a triumph! Kelcey Ervick’s rollicking visual storytelling makes this information-packed lesson in women’s sports history both hilarious and surprisingly moving. Do not be deceived by her loose, exuberant drawings—the level of writerly control at play in this beautiful book is prodigious.”
from Briana Scurry, World Cup Champion U.S. Goalkeeper, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and author of My Greatest Save:
“Kelcey Ervick's The Keeper [is] about sisterhood and the sacred bonds between teammates. It’s about the love of the game and the deep sense of joy and power it provides. It's about the collective strength of women and how we have built on each other's achievements, one generation passing the baton to the next, to ensure a future without limits for the girls who will follow. The Keeper is equal parts inspiration and motivation.”
from the New York Times Book Review:
"[R]eaders will certainly want to linger on the beautiful depictions of birds, people and scenes from her life. She weaves in historical context in graceful and necessary ways."
from Publisher's Weekly:
"[A] work of disarming emotional power."
"This thought-provoking title will draw readers' attention to the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX while also satisfying fans of graphic memoirs, sports, and feminist history."
Resource for Teachers and Book Groups
Discussion questions and drawing prompt here.
excerpt at Lit Hub:
excerpt at Publisher's Weekly:
on TIK TOK
Check out this fun Tik Tok video, which pages through THE KEEPER, taking you on a scavenger hunt of 1980s drawings in the book: Prince, Madonna, Sun-In, Swatch watch, etc.
Eeek! (that's excited voice for click here for link)
Wonderful article in the April 2023 print issue. (view digital version here)
"[The Keeper] reads at a brisk pace, though readers will certainly want to linger on the beautiful depictions of birds, people and scenes from her life. She weaves in historical context in graceful and necessary ways." (Read the full review here--no paywall.)
"Like the best sports books, it’s really about life: she gets into feminism, freedom, art, women’s bodies, and the loneliness of the goalkeeper (she quotes from fellow keepers Camus and Nabokov). The result’s a winning argument for women’s sports as a gateway to freedom and self-determination."
Reviewed at the Indiana Author Awards
"[The Keeper] is about more than soccer, feminism, or writing; it’s a delightful blend of all three." (more here)
The Keeper finds itself in a ginormous tie for the second tier of third place! :)
The Keeper is in some great company here.
PW recommends The Keeper for your holiday gift needs!
I wrote an essay and comic for the Washington Post: "Title IX became law 50 years ago. Here's why it still matters."
An excerpt of The Keeper featuring fellow goalkeepers Vladimir Nabokov and Albert Camus.
PW calls The Keeper an "exuberant and engaging graphic memoir" and publishes an excerpt featuring Lolita, Madonna, Prince, and the Pink Ladies.
"Every time I began turning the pages too fast, carried away with the story, Ervick would slow me down, reminding me to savor the writing, the art, and especially the electricity created by the two in combination."
Exciting list, and The Keeper is on it!
"It is funny. It is about feminism. It is about...growing up female and being an athlete." (link)
"To every woman in sports who has lived a life cleaved in two, who has felt they must always be sacrificing a part of themselves for another, who has been asked to choose between unfit or objectified on the field, brutish or palpable at school, between girl and athlete, this book is for you."
Join the Asynchronous Book Club and check out this list of discussion questions and a drawing prompt for THE KEEPER at Autobiographix.
Per the title of this review, "A Goalkeeper Scores," I really did score in a game when I punted a long ball on a short field against a bad team and somehow it went in!
"Graphic Novel Pays Homage to the Heroes of Title IX," published as part of Indiana University's special feature on the 50th anniversary of Title IX.