Title: Michigan vs the Boys
Author: Carrie S. Allen
Year Published: 2019
Publisher: Kids Can Press Loft (imprint of Kids Can Press)
Cover Art/Designer: Emma Dolan
Genre: Young Adult ~ Contemporary Romance ~ Sports
When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.
Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.
If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …
The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.
But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up – even if it means putting her future on the line.
Disclaimer: I received this e-arc through Netgalley, and the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. The featured image is my own. The summary is taken from Goodreads. All opinions expressed are my own.
Me? Rating a sports book 5 stars? Okay, it’s happened before with Running With Lions by Julian Winters. And the All For the Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic. So I guess I do tend to like sports books if they have a good cast of characters. Michigan vs the Boys proved that point.
A big deal of the book focuses on the boys’ team hating the fact that Michigan joined their team (after her team was cut for budgetary reasons). Which was unfortunate because she’s a really good player, but because she’s a girl, she’s automatically seen as inferior in most of the boys’ eyes. Like they keep saying that women are more ‘emotional and prone to rages’ or whatever but who’s out trashing the streets when their favourite sports team loses? Who gets upset when a girl tells him “No”?
That really riled me up and annoyed me to high heaven. I attended an all-girls’ school from Gr. R to Gr. 12 so the only time I had to deal with boys in the classroom was in Drama (Gr.10 – 12). And even then I only liked 2 of them and either would sit by them or sit by the girls. I know for a fact that if my parents put me in a co-ed school I would be in the principal’s office at least once a week for fighting with the boys. I just had no patience for them! One reason why I never dated in high school (another because I was too busy reading to find time for a relationship 😆).
I kept wanting to reach into the book and throttle the boys or at the very least, check them into the boards (I checked this term with my friend who loves ice hockey 😄) – and check them hard so they stay out of the match. Like they ABSOLUTELY wouldn’t treat another male team member the way they treated Michigan – but because she’s a girl, she gets Gatorade spilled in her bag and is hit hard on the ice. I don’t even want to go on about all the times I wanted to shout at most of the boys. It would mean this review would be more than 5 thousand words, because that’s how much it enrages me. Avery Gardiner (the goalie) is like the only decent enough person on the team but even he doesn’t stand up to the others (but I believe he’s also a newbie, so that means he doesn’t quite have the same stature as the others).
Coach Henson (of the boys’ team) angered me so much. He played favourites all the time and wouldn’t listen to Michigan when she came to him with her concerns. He tells her he doesn’t want her playing a centre role because it’s ‘easier to hide you on the wing’ (the wing being her current position) when what he really means is that his ‘boys’ on the team don’t want a female player playing a centre position. Henson would rather keep the boys happy than be a stronger team. Oh! And also making Michigan SIT at the front of the bus and keeping a row between her and the boys… because she’s instantly going to give each of the boys a lap-dance, right? That’s how girls work?
Michigian’s relationship with her younger brother, also a player (but not at her school), was really sweet to see! It was quickly shown that they love each other and he supports her whole-heartedly – I was hoping that it would be like that and not ‘younger brother thinks she should stop because she won’t be as good as the boys’.
Michigan knows what she wants. She has goals set and she has her eyes set on the prize. I love that for her, for any character I’m reading. I want to know what they want. She’s very passionate about hockey and shows that clearly enough so we have no choice but to love her.
I sort of didn’t expect there to be a romance. I thought this would focus solely on Michigan and all that she has to endure. But there was a romance and it ended up being sweet and something I could root for.
As for her friends, I didn’t really think much of them. They did support Michigan and was there for her – but it just felt a bit lackluster, I think? Like I do get that they were all extremely busy, but I feel that the friends we were shown should’ve featured more? That’s just my thoughts. And I didn’t like Brie, her best friend, either. Too self-centred for my tastes.
All in all, it’s a really good book. Not only is it an important issue to speak about, it’s also great to see girls in sports! I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for sports in a book, a character who knows what she wants, or maybe what not to do if you’re a guy and a girl joins your team.
Have you read this book? Or have you seen this and been wanting to read it? Hopefully now you will (if you haven’t already)! Are you a big fan of sports or are you like me and stay away from most sports? Come chat and let’s see!