Hockey writer Falla (Home Ice: Reflections on Backyard Rinks and Frozen Ponds, 2000, etc.) takes readers game-by-game through one life-changing season of a fictional NHL goalie.
Jean Pierre Lucien Savard is a 31-year-old goalie still trying to capture the Stanley Cup. Single after the death of his wife, he drives a Ferrari and sleeps with beautiful younger women. He blatantly quotes his seven-figure salary and dines ostentatiously at five-star restaurants, all in an effort to remove himself from his blue collar upbringing in Maine. Though the season isn’t going spectacularly well—JP’s spot is being threatened by a newer, younger player—his love life takes a turn for the better when his best friend and teammate reintroduces him to a college friend, Faith McNeil, a brilliant and successful woman who is as much a competitor as JP. Faith challenges JP to see himself as more than a hockey player and encourages him to start thinking about what he’ll do after retiring. JP’s blunt, slightly jaded tone gets tiring, as do the locker room pranks and macho banter. He’d be more empathetic if he weren’t such a meathead. The characters feel cookie-cutter and the plot is thin. Falla is able to capture the excitement and exhilaration of the game, but the detailed play-by-plays will be hard to follow for those unfamiliar with hockey.
An easy read for anyone fueled by sports metaphors.