by Kristine Carlson Asselin
Publisher: Wicked Whale Publishing
Publication Date: October 26, 2017
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Penelope Spaulding just can't catch a break. Between long hours at the family pizza shop, piles of homework, and her dad’s new obsession—getting the restaurant on a new foodie reality show—it's hard to find a spare moment to breathe. But when she laces up her skates and steps on the ice, the world is hers to control and everything else slips away.
When the bad boy who lives down the street dares her to join the Rink Rats, the local misfit hockey team, she surprises herself and joins in silent defiance of her controlling parents.
The more she plays, the easier it is to keep lying, and soon Pen finds it impossible to come clean. She’s sneaking out to practice—and loving every minute of it. It doesn’t take long for her to fall in love with hockey…but she’s not entirely sure if it’s the game she’s falling for or the boy. Because it can’t last. As soon as her dad finds out, she’ll be benched. For good.
And the one thing she IS sure of...she can't stop playing.
Hockey? Childhood friends to enemies to more than friends? Sounds good to me! I gobbled up this sweet and adorable book in an afternoon.
Pen was a wonderful character. I loved the descriptions of how she felt while skating, of how the rest of the world just fell away for her. It made her determination to pursue hockey against her father’s wishes make more sense. And even though she repeatedly lies to her family, it’s also obvious how much she loves and respects her parents, and to some extent understand why her father is the way he is. Pen may not want to follow in her father’s footsteps and run the restaurant, but she loves it all the same.
I also loved her sweetly paced romance with Jake. Walking Pen home from the restaurant? So cute! But, honestly, though, while I loved Pen, I thought most of the secondary characters were underdeveloped, even Jake. I found the explanation of (and resolution to) his bad boy status a bit too pat. Lori, Pen’s best friend, was another character that felt like she was just there to chauffeur Pen around and allow her to talk about her feelings of Jake. Strong female friendships are serious book catnip to me, especially in YA books, so this felt like a missed opportunity.
Best of all, this young adult book is mostly teen-angst-free (hooray!). I understand that it’s pretty normal for teens to feel that way, but I much prefer characters like Pen who just put on their big girl panties and make their dreams happen rather than continuously dwelling on the unfairness of it all. Yes, there is conflict, but most of it is resolved without slammed doors and screaming. I especially liked the resolution of Pen’s dad’s feelings about hockey.
Overall, this is such a sweet young adult novel. It’s light and fluffy, but still thoroughly enjoyable.