Power Plays.


192 pages
ISBN 978-1-55050-344-8
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Allison Sivak

Allison Sivak is a librarian in the Science and Technology Library at
the University of Alberta.


One of a very few young adult novels about girls’ hockey, the story focuses on an outcast teen who finds herself through hard work and commitment to her passion for sport.


Fourteen-year-old Jessie McIntyre has moved with her parents and younger sister to the town of Estevan, Saskatchewan from Saskatoon, and immediately gets on the wrong side of a bully named Kim. Kim spreads rumours that Jessie is snobbish and rude, which culminates in a high school dropout named Marsha forcing Jessie into coming on a vandalism joyride to scare her. Jessie is caught by the police, and her parents lose trust in her. Jessie’s English teacher, also the coach of the girls’ hockey team, suggests the game as a way to channel Jessie’s energy. From here, Jessie begins to make some friendships and becomes interested in an older player, Mark. A series of obstacles and misunderstandings presents minor complications for Jessie, but the story ends with her success in the game, against her adversaries, and with Mark.


The Canadian setting and details provide local interest, and the author writes about the sport itself very well. At times, Jessie’s voice is stiff (rather than swearing, Jessie uses phrases like “the f-bomb”) and doesn’t read as contemporary. While the ending is predictable, Ulrich does avoid overly simple characterizations, and so Kim is shown not to just be a bully, but a girl struggling with her own problems. The book isn’t a smooth read, but readers will enjoy Ulrich’s strengths. Recommended with reservations.


Ulrich, Maureen., “Power Plays.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28695.