Andra Douglas’ new novel, Black and Blue: Love, Sports, and the Art of Empowerment is loosely based on her own life and desires to be part of the world of football. Focused on Christine, the youngest of three daughters, who struggles to go against the expectations put on her by living in the South. She has always wanted to play football, but a spot on her high school team is kept from her and she finds herself dejected watching as her male classmates are given football scholarships, knowing that she will never receive one. When she moves to New York City she assumes that she will never play the game she loves, but sometimes fate has a way of stepping in.
Once in the city Christine hears rumors of women playing flag football and decides to take the leap. Clutching her ball she heads to Fire Island on the ferry and there she meets a diverse group of women who are all tied together through their love of the game. After years of successful flag football competitions a new organization arises, Women’s Professional Football Association, an actual tackle league for women. When Christine learns that the league needs not only funding, but a new owner she takes the risk and chooses to buy the franchise, but what happens from there is full of tension and risk. Can she make it through this new life choice with the issues of finding coaches who aren’t abusive, lagging morale, sudden deaths, and even more curve balls than she ever could have expected. Douglas, who formally owned the New York Sharks Women’s Pro Football team and played herself, draws from these experiences to craft a story that defies gender norms and shows how powerful a passion for something can be.
Even in her youth, Christine is shown being dedicated to not only playing, but truly the art of the game. When she is finally allowed to play with them she gains a reputation and when not playing is creating her own plays and finding ways to be better. Her father even supports her love of football and also seems to be closer with her than her older sisters. While neither of her siblings seems interested in sports or the other activities their father enjoys Christine always wants to take part. This passion for football and being part of the game seems to be pushed out of her as she grows older through the expectations of the South. When Christine can finally play in a league, after moving to NYC for college, she feels her passion rise again and yearns for every Sunday when she can play. The love of football and the community built around this love is so captivating throughout Douglas’ story. Christine has finally found her place and the passion she has to keep it together is inspirational. Beyond that the fact that this is inspired by true elements speaks to the strength of character Douglas herself has. Whether you are a fan of football or sports in general you will adore this book. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, this story is still an engaging read. Get your copy of Black and Blue: Love, Sports, and the Art of Empowerment today!