CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 14. . . . March 14, 2003
Now my mind rings with "Why not you? It's in your blood. Go ahead. Give it a try."
Yeah, why not me? Since The Uncles, no one in the family has played hockey seriously. They say that talent skips a generation - so why not two? Can't I be the next great Rivers?
I take a deep breath. Here goes.
"I'd like to sign up for hockey at the community club this winter." I steel myself for the objections. It costs too much. The time commitment is too great. What about your asthma?
Mom and Dad look at each other across the kitchen table and shrug.
"It's okay by me. What do you think, dear?" Dad forks up a mouthful of chicken.
"Sure. Why not?" Mom pushes her unruly blond curls off her face. "You know you might not be with your friends. They've been playing for years."
"I know, I just want to give it a try, that's all."
Lee Rivers always admired his three great uncles who were NHL players in the 1920's and 1930's. Inspired by their love of the game, Lee decides to try hockey at about the age of twelve. Although his dad made an ice-rink in the backyard every winter, Lee had never played in a formal hockey league. Lee quickly makes friends with a few other "beginner" players. Their growing friendships offset the darker side of their hockey experiences when the team is overrun by one competitive and pushy parent. In addition to their increasing appreciation for the game and a decreasing enthusiasm for their team, Lee and his friends discover that one of their teammates, Ryan, is in need of friendship. Acting out of guilt for treating Ryan poorly in the past and a strong desire to do the right thing, Lee and his buddies devise ways of building a relationship with their estranged teammate. These experiences act to solidify Lee's love of hockey and his commitment to his friends.
Using a combination of real and fictitious newspaper excerpts, Camilla Rivers begins each chapter with the story of the "great uncles" who were brothers that actually played competitive hockey in the 1920's and 1930's. This approach adds a unique dimension to Red Line Blues, making it a more insightful read. By the end of the book, it becomes apparent that Lee has internalized the experiences of his ancestors and has discovered the true meaning of hockey - the love of the game.
Rivers gently introduces the reader to the competitive and violent underworld of hockey without delving too deeply into this area. The problems are apparent, but the story is not thrown into darkness because of them. Consequently, the book is a fairly light read. Well paced and well written, this work is certain to entertain the young hockey fan.
Christina Neigel is the Instruction Librarian for the University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.