This week I am taking on reviewing a duo of graphic novels by Howard Shapiro The Hockey Saint today, and Hockey Karma tomorrow. Each book packs a heavy punch into a short number of pages will surely extend to audiences beyond YA readers. While the stories revolve around the struggles of growing up and finding your place, the messages transcend well beyond the hockey rink and are bound to be relatable to a wide variety of audiences.
Title: The Hockey Saint
Author: Howard Shapiro
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Expected Publication Date: September 10, 2014
Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, Sports Fiction
Themes: Hockey, Relationships, Addiction, Alcoholism, Fame
My Rating: 4/ 5
The highly anticipated sequel to “The Stereoypical Freaks” and the 2nd book in the “Forever Friends” Trilogy, this is “The Hockey Saint”
Twenty-one year old Jeremiah Jacobson is the world’s best hockey player, but he wasn’t prepared for the frenzy and scrutiny that came with that title. Tom Leonard is an average college sophomore… just a guy trying to find his place in the world as he sorts through issues that are both very real and seemingly insurmountable.
Through a chance meeting, these two strike up an unlikely friendship. Their bond is tested when Tom discovers that his idol isn’t as perfect up close as he seems from afar. With Jeremiah living a little too much in the moment and with his past catching up to him, will Tom be able to help him before it’s too late?
I kept hearing about the Forever Friends Series from one of my library friends so I finally decided that I should give the much talked about The Hockey Saint a try, and I wasn’t disappointed. Although a little on the shorter side for a graphic novel, this book covers a lot of ground in both the topics covered and the development of it’s characters throughout. Dealing with coming of age, assisting an alcoholic come to grips with his addiction, and coping with the loss of one’s parents this is a book that might be better suited to older/ more mature YA readers and adults. Yet, at the same time it is also incredibly relatable.
The sports focus was the perfect vehicle to broach some much broader topics all while keeping the action high and the plot trucking along. I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Tom and Jeremiah, and how they both came to help each other in their own ways. It does a beautiful job at addressing the pressures that accompany pursuits such as university, college sports, professional hockey, and managing private lives in the public eye. But more than that, Shapiro talks unabashedly about some of the socio-economic differences experienced based solely upon your zip-code. The messages that good people can make bad choices, that snakes and spies can be outed, and that we really can make a difference in the world if we so chose to truly ring loud and clear.
I really enjoyed the artwork throughout as well. The colours are beautiful and striking, faces expressive, and the layout is clean and easy to follow. Just enough action happens in the gutter to spark the imagination a little – and as a life-long hockey fan I really loved how all of the action scenes were depicted. I could envision every deke, pass, and play and really got caught up in the practices and games. And what’s not to love about that recommended listing?! Quite possibly one of the best book soundtracks ever!
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! Packed full with real-world moral dilemmas, and just enough of chasing the dream, The Hockey Saint is a beautiful balance between enjoyable and educational. And I would definitely suggest adding both The Hockey Saint and Hockey Karma to junior/high school and YA library collections!
Many thanks to Howard Shapiro and Animal Media Group for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.