________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 19 . . . . January 20, 2012


Making Select. (Sports Stories).

Steven Barwin.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
101 pp., pbk & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-874-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-875-3 (hc.).

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Jonine Bergen.

*** /4



Connor flicked the puck to Ryan on defence, before moving forward on the right wing, expecting a pass back. I hung close to the boards while Connor caught the pass and took the puck up the ice. When Connor dumped the puck behind the Flame’s net, I held back, leaving it for William on left wing. William’s only goal in life was to play on Team Canada and score a winning goal.

As I angled in front of the net waiting for a pass, I felt a headache starting to form – the cheering was too loud to even think. I took a quick peek at the scoreboard. Thirty seconds left.

Tyler’s life revolves around hockey. For as long as he can remember, his goal has been to play in the NHL, and he is on track to achieve that goal. His parents have also committed fully to his game, particularly his mom who has become the dreaded hockey parent/manager. She arranges his schedule to ensure he makes it to all his practices, advocates for try-outs with increasingly elite teams, and even registers him for a special sports high school. To achieve his goals – his parents’ goals – Tyler needs to be the best all the time. As Tyler explains, “For me, it is all about scoring, winning and my point count. According to Coach Wilson and my parents, there was no point in playing the game at all anymore without those.” Making Select explores what can happen when the game is not enough anymore: what does an elite athlete do when he stops loving doing the only thing he does?

     In Making Select, part of Lorimer’s “Sport Stories” series, author Steven Barwin lives in the skin of a teenager who has become disillusioned with a one-dimensional life. Part of the strength of this high interest novel is the realism of Tyler’s voice. The reader can hear the exhaustion and confusion in Tyler’s words; his desire to find a way to have a break without having to break the hearts of his parents and friends who see his life as awesome. As his marks plummet and his game begins to slide, his personal turmoil leads Tyler to decide to set himself up for an injury. When Tyler begins to develop a relationship with Madison, the sister of a teammate, he is finally able to deal with his conflicted emotions.

     As with the other titles from this series, Barwin uses liberal action to maintain the reader’s interest while developing his singular plot of Tyler’s dilemma. Barwin’s hockey scenes depict the speed of the game while illustrating the strategy behind the smooth plays.

     The situation in which Tyler finds himself will resonate with many students who have made sacrifices for their dreams. The book can also be used to start a dialogue about the importance of balance in one’s life. Making Select will make an excellent addition to a library collection and a possible choice for novel studies.


Jonine Bergen is a librarian and former rink rat in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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