Michigan wants to play hockey, which leaves one last audacious option—the boys’ team.
Michigan Manning and her best friend, Brie, dream of victory as the new captains of their high school girls’ ice hockey team. Instead, Principal Belmont shocks them by announcing that budgets cuts will render the girls’ hockey team defunct. The close-knit hockey girls scatter—Brie to private school, the rest to other schools and other sports, but Michigan can’t afford private school tuition or long commutes. Inspired by Jack, a handsome, popular swimmer, and a brave girl on her brother’s AAA bantam team, Michigan shrugs off ridicule, taunts, and bullying to earn her way to a coveted center position on the boys’ varsity team. It’s an exhilarating run, as debut author Allen creates a wonderfully authentic hockey world. Determined, resilient Michigan fights for her right to play despite feeling abandoned by old friends and ostracized by her new team. However, readers may feel frustrated by the author's portrayal of Michigan’s rationalizations and the alpha bad guy trope, which veers toward the cartoonish—after purposely injuring her, one bully "lowers his voice as if talking to a baby. 'Are you going to be OK to play this weekend? Coach needs his widdle Michigan out there.' " The supportive relationships between Michigan and her brother, boyfriend, and father are beautifully written, and the on-ice experience is similarly nuanced and breathtaking. Most characters are assumed white.
Nevertheless, a gritty and heroic athlete persists. (Fiction. 13-16)