Power Play by Eric Walters

8654202184 c0398f8bbb Power Play by Eric WaltersBuy Power Play
Regular Price: $14.99
Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Format: Paperback
Reviewer: Melissa on April 16, 2013
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

No one’s tougher than Cody: his teammates, his rivals on the ice, and even his alcoholic father all pale in comparison. Cody knows he needs to be tough because he has his eyes set on the prize – to make it to the NHL – and he won’t let anything get in his way. When a Junior A League scout picks Cody to make the draft and becomes his new coach, he can’t believe his luck! Finally someone sees the potential he has to go pro! In bestselling, Canadian YA author, Eric WaltersPower Play, however, Cody will soon learn that the person who he thought was his champion is planning to take as much (if not more) than he gives, transforming his big break into a nightmarish world of secrets, lies, and the unthinkable abuse of power.

In hockey, a power play occurs when one player has been issued a penalty, and thus, his or her team is forced to play with only five players (including the goalie) against six on the opposing side. With one additional player, it’s easy to see which team has the upper hand, or the power, in this situation. In Power Play, a book that tackles the disturbing relationship that occurs between Cody, a talented young hockey star, and his coach, it’s easy to see why this was the perfect title. With a subject like this one, Power Play has the potential to be a harrowing, uncomfortable novel, and I have to say that it certainly lives up to that description. That said, I highly recommend it for teens 14+ and adult readers of YA because it’s a really important subject, especially in Canada where hockey has become so ingrained in our cultural identity and playing in the NHL is the dream of so many teen boys. Might I even suggest that you read it along with your teen to answer any questions that come up with this topic, too? Sometimes the reason a book makes you uncomfortable is that it’s true, and Walters’ 2013 release certainly qualifies.

This is only the second novel I’ve read by Walters – the first was The Taming, which he co-wrote with Teresa Toten – but just from this brief introduction, I can already say that he knows voice.  Cody’s story is told in a psychologically complex and interesting way that I believed completely. As the book blurb suggest, he isn’t a weak guy by any stretch of the imagination, but readers soon learn that part of the reason he’s so angry from the beginning has a lot to do with the poor relationship he has with his father, an alcoholic who has taken to yelling at Cody’s rivals, the refs, and even his own son during a game after he’s had one too many drinks. And of course, Cody is driven to succeed in the game. For a predatory character like Coach Conners, these qualities and Cody’s past issues at school make him a prime candidate for the extreme type of manipulation that Walters depicts on the pages of Power Play.

Saying anything more would give away too much of the story, but suffice it to say that Power Play is compelling look at what happens when the player-coach relationship is abused. Pick it up today, share it with a teen, and spread the word about a book might help teens see through the disturbing power politics represented in the novel if it ever happens to them or their friends because the more we talk about important books like this one, the more likely we’ll see lives saved.

Buy Power Play today!

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