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Contributor(s): Kadohata, Cynthia, Zorat, Maurizio (Illustrator)
ISBN: 1481446614     ISBN-13: 9781481446617
Publisher: Atheneum
    OUR PRICE: $15.29  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: February 2018
Annotation: To help his dog through cancer treatment, Conor gives up hockey and finds himself considering who he is without the sport that has defined him, and connecting more with his family and best friend.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Hockey; Fiction.
Doberman pinscher; Fiction.
Dogs; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2017025626
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 7.75" H x 5.25" W x 1.25" (1.00 lbs) 408 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 December #1)

Conor MacRae may not be a stellar student, but the half-Japanese 11-year-old is a champ on the ice. Conor lives and breathes hockey, especially with imminent tryouts for the Grizzlies, a AAA team. When Conor's pet Doberman gets cancer, he has to decide whether to give up expensive hockey lessons to pay for Sinbad's chemotherapy. Revealing the sacrifices young athletes and their families must often make, National Book Award winner Kadohata (The Thing About Luck) creates a deeply poignant story about a boy sorting out his priorities. Conor fills readers in on a wealth of hockey details, slowing the pace somewhat, but his problems are deeply relatable, and Kadohata never sugarcoats harsh realities. Conor's hockey commitments contributed to his father's and stepmother's divorce ("When a kid plays travel hockey, it takes up a lot of space in your life. Some people don't like that"), and their precarious financial situation is viscerally felt. Despite its sad moments, Kadohata's story is uplifting on balance, sensitively showing how Conor's hardships have made him wiser and more realistic without diminishing his passions. Ages 10–14. (Feb.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2018 February)

Gr 4–6—"Hockey kid" Conor McRae is obsessed with his sport. At age 12, he's playing for an elite level team in his L.A. suburb and begins competing nationally. A mediocre student, he devotes himself totally to training and practicing for his planned career as a pro hockey player. All of this is a challenge for Conor's police officer dad, a widower who is now divorced from his second wife. To compound matters, Conor's Doberman, Sinbad, is diagnosed with cancer and will require a $7,000 treatment. Kadohata is a hockey mom, according to a back cover note, and she aptly describes the enormous sacrifice of money and time required for competition at Conor's level. But while hockey gives some structure to the narrative, the story ultimately lacks focus and sprawls over too many plotlines, including Dad's dissatisfaction with his police work, money troubles, the dog's illness, Conor's estranged grandparents, his training regimen and relationships with Eastern European coaches, his budding prayer life, a brain injury, and a wildfire that dominates the opening of the book and then ceases to be a plot element. Narrated by Conor, the story is a blizzard of facts and observations as if told by a tween unable to discern which events advance the plot and which ones distract from it. Descriptions of hockey play are lengthy and detailed. VERDICT The novel is wholesome and the tone positive, but it never achieves any narrative traction. Purchase only where youth hockey is extremely popular.—Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.