Publisher: ABRAMS (Amulet Books)
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
“Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.”
What Did I Think?
Ughh, I know right? I really wish I could give this book a higher rating, but there were quite a few issues I just simply couldn’t overlook. That being said, there were a couple of things that I thought worked really well in this book, so this review is not going to be all negative, I promise!
Let’s start by talking about the overall concept. I was intrigued with the fact that Holland was the only girl playing on a boys hockey team and her rock music blog was super interesting to read about. Since I don’t know much about hockey or Minnesota, I went in hoping this book would be able to teach me a little bit about life in this state and the sport itself. While I think the concept of this book is unique in that its setting is in a place I haven’t read about before in YA, there were some aspects of the concept that fell flat. For example, Holland’s school had a girls hockey team and I just didn’t find her reasoning for being on the boys team very compelling. I think she should play for whatever team she wants to, obviously, but I just felt like we needed more to understand why it was so important to her that she be on that specific team. The reader was also just thrown into the world of ice hockey without any real background, and if you’re like me with little knowledge about the sport, there are moments where you may get very confused about what’s going on and when certain terminology was used. As a whole, the concept in theory was a good one, but the execution could have been better.
Character time! For the most part, I really liked Holland. She’s definitely a strong female main character, and I though the fact that she used all the negativity she was receiving from members of the community regarding her position on the hockey team as fuel rather than crumbling under the pressure was really inspiring. On the other hand, the reader still got to see a softer side to Holland when she wasn’t on the ice, and having her use her rock blog as an outlet to share how she really feels when given some of the intense criticism she does was a really clever idea.
While Wes’ kinder side comes out later on in the book, I just wasn’t convinced– it came on too suddenly to be believable, like the flip of a switch. However, by the end, when he was interacting with his family, I like 90% believed that he’s genuinely a kind dude. One of the elements of Wes’ character that I really liked was his loyalty to Holland, even when they weren’t on the best of terms, as well as his constant support of her when she started doubting herself. I would have liked to have seen more about Wes himself, though, rather than him always just being there to help Holland out when she needed it. MUCH more development was definitely needed to make Wes’ character more compelling to the reader.
The whole “insta-love” situation between Wes and Holland just didn’t do it for me. I don’t even think that this was the intent– I think the author was going for more of the “enemies turned BF/GF” trope, but that hardly came across because it only lasted for .5 seconds before Holland’s feelings about Wes changed and vice versa. Ultimately, there was little relationship development between the two characters, which made the romance really hard to buy as realistic. However, I did like how Wes and Holland both connected over music. It seems that was the only thing other than hockey that they could bond over, which is better than nothing!
Time to wrap this up with some final thoughts. As far as pacing goes, I thought it was done relatively well! I didn’t find myself skimming lines, but by the same token, I also didn’t feel all that invested in the story. The characters and their personalities were definitely the highlight of this book for me. I also hate to mention this, but the ending was very unsatisfying. I’m not sure what I was looking for exactly, but at minimum, I certainly expected there to be some type of wrap-up, which ended up being non-existent. To end this thing on a positive note, though: the cover is absolutely stunning!
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
*The language in this book got pretty strong at times (particularly at the end), so I’d only recommend this to readers who are mature enough to handle that. I’m 20, and it made me cringe at times. I’d say this book is only suitable for readers age 15/16+.*
Obviously this book was very “ehhh” for me and, in some regards, very disappointing. But everyone has an opinion, so if this book peaks your interest, don’t hesitate to give it a go!
If you’re a big fan of hockey and already familiar with the terrain of Minnesota, it’s likely that you’ll really enjoy this book and be able to relate more to it than I could.
People who enjoy Sarah Dessen’s books may also like some aspects of this book, and if you’re a fan of the insta-love and enemies-turned-lovers tropes, this may be a good fit for you!