CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 27 . . . . March 16, 2012
Breakaway. (Sports Stories).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
139 pp., pbk. & hc, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-862-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-863-0 (hc.).
Grades 3-7 / Age 8-12.
Review by Erin Walker.
He felt sick to his stomach. So many lies to his fatheróhe hadnít wanted it to be like this.
Maybe I should just play hockey, he considered.
It wasnít that he didnít want to challenge himself in the Elite League. It wasnít even that he suddenly liked soccer better than hockey. It was just that right now the Dragons were the team that mattered to him the most.
Maybe itíll be okay, he told himself. Maybe I can play on the Elite team and play soccer and just never tell him.
But deep down, he knew that the only way he could keep playing soccer would be to quit the Elite League.
He just couldnít quite bring himself to say it, even to himself.
Back in Castelgar, Adam Burnett was his hockey teamís Most Valuable Player. But, after his family moves to Vancouver and his new classmate Rodrigo introduces him to the ďbeautiful gameĒ of soccer, itís not long before Adamís trying out for the school soccer team.
Adam must keep his soccer playing a secret from his hockey-obsessed father who would never allow him to play. At the same time, Adamís father is pressuring him to perform at hockey tryouts for Vancouverís Elite League. Adam doesnít want to disappoint his dad, but he is torn between hockeyóa game heís always loved and excelled inóand the new and exciting game of soccer. He still loves hockey, but itís not as much fun playing with the Elite League as it was back in Castlegar. Itís highly competitive, and the players are unfriendly. Meanwhile, heís made a ton of new friends playing soccer. If only there was a way to keep playing both. How can Adam convince his father that soccerís not such a terrible sport?
Author Trevor Kew is a teacher and frequent contributor to the soccer magazine Free Kick. Breakaway is his third book in Lorimerís ďSport StoriesĒ series. Like other titles in this series, Breakaway shines is in its fast-paced and vivid descriptions of game play. Parental pressure to excel is a real issue for many young athletes. The portrayal of Adamís narrow-minded and prejudiced father, however, comes across as unrealistic and over-the-top at times. Mr. Burnettís disdain for soccer is extreme and never fully explained, and it is hard to believe that a parent would so doggedly discourage his children from pursuing their interests.
More than just a sports story, the novelís underlying themes have broader appeal. Breakaway explores the inner conflict of a young teen struggling to live up to his fatherís expectations while being true to himself. This father-son relationship is sure to strike a chord with many readers. Whatís more, Kew does an excellent job conveying the thoughts and emotions of a young man who has moved from a small town to a large and diverse metropolis. The dialogue is engaging and believable, and the plot moves at a quick pace, qualities readers are sure to appreciate, sports fans or not.
Erin Walker is the Childrenís Services Librarian at the Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library.
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