Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy

First Second. Oct. 2023. 304p. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781250838728.
Gr 9 Up–Alix feels awkward in just about every area of her life. The only time she feels empowered is when she is playing hockey, but after she hits the captain of her team in retaliation for bullying her, Alix’s future in hockey becomes questionable. Desperate to get her anger under control, she seeks out Ezra, a drama kid who has an uncanny ability to confront his bullies with his words, not his fists. What started as a mentorship turns into friendship, and then something more, as Alix and Ezra open up about their past, present, and future fears. Alix and Ezra’s budding relationship is endearing yet also requires them to confront traumatic situations from outside sources (homophobia from classmates, spousal abuse at home, parental abandonment, and bullying from peers and adults) which adds a layer of depth to an otherwise sugary sweet romance. Illustrations are black and white with splashes of blue and expressive line work. Alix is light-skinned with straight hair. Ezra is light skinned with black hair and hasn’t found a label for his sexuality yet.
VERDICT A feel good romance that doesn’t shy away from the painful side of life.

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