SPG Book Reviews - Breakaway

Reviewed by: Karen Lawson

She shoots! She Scores! Maureen Ulrich has scored a hat trick with her latest young adult fiction book called Breakaway. This is the last book in the "Jessie Mac Series." We first met the heroine, Jessie, in the novel Power Plays. We got to know her better in the second book in the series, Face Off. It is like being reacquainted with an old friend as we once again connect with Jessie and follow her as she matures into a young woman.

Breakaway continues Jessie's journey from a young teen to her final year in high school. She is now playing AAA hockey, which is not only highly competitive, but also the most advanced level of minor girls' hockey. In addition to her contribution as a team player, she is also the Captain, which creates more responsibility and stress. 

Jessie's athletic goals often compete with her personal life, especially her love life. She finds it difficult to stay focused on hockey when she is torn between her first love, Mark and two other romantic interests, Liam and Evan. Jessie is on the cusp between adolescence and adulthood and is faced with obstacles, challenges, and choices. In addition to the complexities of her personal life, she is concerned about her younger sister, Courtney, who is struggling with her own issues. Jessie has been down the same road and is determined to be a good role model for her little sister and keep her on the right path.

Author Ulrich is not only well informed and knowledgeable about young women's hockey; she has quite literally "lived to tell the tale." Her daughter, Robin, also a hockey player, is the inspiration for her stories. Ulrich understands the sub culture of small town hockey and how it keeps prairie communities alive and connected during the long, cold, winter months. Her many references to familiar Saskatchewan landmarks add a personal touch that make it easy for many readers to connect with the characters and locales described in the book. 

Breakaway is a fast moving, action packed novel that teenage girls will relate to at many different levels. The author's observations on how teens cope in today's contemporary society is refreshing and realistic. 

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