Face Off

27 July 2011

Face Off
by Maureen Ulrich
Published by Coteau Books for Teens
Review by Karen Lawson
$12.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-452-1

After the success of her first teen hockey novel, Power Plays, Maureen Ulrich has once again scored big with her second hockey novel called Face Off. Set in Estevan, SK, this story follows the next chapter in the life of Jessie MacIntyre, who was the main character in Power Plays.

The author is no stranger to the classroom or the hockey rink, as she has had many years of experience in both environments. Ulrich knows her subject matter and her audience well and the result is a contemporary story that captures the reality of high school life and all the trials and tribulations that go with it.

Jessie is a likeable and typical prairie teenager who is still grappling with fitting in to a new school. Her friends and teammates are strong willed young women with a wide array of different personalities and problems.

The author has created a colourful cast of characters, most of which were introduced in Power Plays. On the surface, this book appears to be about girls’ hockey and the competitive spirit that fuels the sport. But Face Off is more than just a teen fiction novel about girls’ hockey. It digs much deeper and examines current issues that influence teens today. The underlying message of Face Off is how the pressures and stresses of high school life ultimately affect the choices adolescents make and what the consequences of those choices are.

Ulrich’s first novel zeroed in on the topical issue of bullying and Face Off continues in this vein but broadens the scope to include binge drinking and gay relationships. Hopefully, she will continue to tackle these relevant issues and treat us to the third novel in this series.


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