Michigan vs. The Boys – Carrie S. Allen – Kids Can Press – Published 1 October 2019




Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …

The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up – even if it means putting her future on the line.

My thoughts

Michigan vs. The Boys is a book that is as equally heartbreaking as it is uplifting. It is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds, facing abuse, weighing the costs of speaking up against the burden of silence, the power of a true team and the love of a sport.

Michigan loves ice hockey. She loves her team and time spent on the ice, both training and playing. But she doesn’t realise how much she loves the sport until the girl’s ice hockey team is cut. While her best friend leaves to play at a boarding school and other members of the team scatter between the swim team and the local team, Michigan decides to try out for the boy’s team. But the boys are far from welcoming and soon Michigan must decide if her love of the sport is worth the abuse she faces.

I love sports fiction. I may be physical-activity challenged and the person anyone in their right mind would pick last for a sports team, but I really enjoy a good YA novel about sport, teams and the dedicated individuals who train and compete so hard. I was literally in a cold sweat the whole time I was reading this book. I was so worried about what was going to happen next, as jumpy as Michigan who is peaking over her shoulder the whole time.

I so admire Michigan. She loves her sport, loves the dedication it requires and the hard work to which she must commit. And the more abuse she cops, the harder it is for her, the harder she works, the better she becomes and the more awesome she is. The abuse and insidious misogyny in this book is absolutely disgusting. And what is equally bad is the the way some of the adults overlook and condone it. But for every aspect of the very worst side of teams, for every low-down piece of garbage (sorry, meant to write dumb teenage guy) and idiot, blind adult, is a solid demonstration of friendship and the true meaning of team, supportive and encouraging individuals (including guys) and adults who stand up and do the right thing.

At the heart of this story is Michigan. Some readers may criticise Michigan for the abuse she takes and stays silent about, and the decisions she makes about speaking up. Instead, I believe this story highlights the very real costs of speaking up and the dilemma survivors of abuse must face. It will no doubt spark debate amongst readers. Throughout Michigan’s journey I could only admire her for her strength.

I adored the romance on this story. It contributes to the main themes and offers a supportive and decent male character for the story. I also just generally loved their connection and enjoyment of each other’s company.

Michigan vs The Boys is a sports novel I look forward to adding to our library shelves and sharing with many readers its important message of strength and determination.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction

Genre: Contemporary – Sport

Themes: Sport, ice hockey, teams, girls and women, abuse, sexual harassment, friendship

Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.

Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (31), sh** (38), pi** (14), bi*** (2), as***** (5), pus** (2), di** (4), wh*** (2). Mature themes –  abuse, sexual harassment, assault. Violence.

Published: 1 October 2019 by Kids Can Press.

Format: Hardcover, ebook. 304 pages.


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