The Player

Lorimer. (Lorimer SideStreets). Aug. 2021. 160p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781459415782; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781459415768.
Gr 9 Up–Coop is his hockey team’s new goalie. They’ve just made the playoffs and frequently travel the Toronto region for games. Afterward, the boys like to flirt with “puck bunnies,” girls who hang around the hockey team. But Coop mostly keeps to himself. He’s gay, though not out to his teammates. In a motel room after a big game, star center and team captain Pesh lets on that he knows Coop is gay, then kisses him, initiating an increasingly physical attachment. Pesh also has a no-strings relationship with Bobbi, a social media wizard who is helping him, and later Coop, manage their online presence. Pesh’s only ambition is to play professional hockey, but his parents are immigrants from Sri Lanka and they don’t understand his passion for the game. As things heat up with Coop, Pesh starts to back away, eager to challenge the white domination of his sport, but unwilling to add queerness as a barrier. The ending moves quickly, neatly tying up story lines, with a spectacular save by Coop in a game seven championship, pro offers for both main characters, and a budding new romance. Sentences are short and vocabulary simple. Occasional Canadian terminology (change room for locker room) should not distract American readers. There is some misogynistic and homophobic chatter among the boys. Sex is discussed and described, though in vague terms. With little detail about game play or hockey business, the story foregrounds teen social culture and romance.
VERDICT Recommended for high school libraries.

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