Michigan vs. the Boys

KCP Loft. Oct. 2019. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781525301483.
Gr 9 Up–When budget cuts end her hockey team right before her final season, Michigan Manning has little choice but to try out for the boys’ team if she wants to keep playing. But making it onto the team is the least of her problems when it becomes obvious that neither the coach nor her teammates want her there. With Coach looking for any opportunity to cut her and her teammates’ hazing becoming increasingly violent, Michigan is forced to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice in order to keep playing the game she loves. This timely sports story is an uncomfortable read but a necessary one, tackling tough issues like hazing and sexism in sports. Allen skillfully paints a bleak picture without coming across as message-y, and Michigan’s own coaching duties allow her to reflect on the example that she’s setting for future generations. While readers may chafe at Michigan’s reluctance to step forward sooner and put a stop to it, as the violence toward her escalates, the result is a high stakes page turner where the tension is palpabale.
VERDICT Frank discussion of sexual assault and harassment make this a better choice for older readers who enjoy sports and Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie but may not be ready for E.K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear.

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