Power Plays

3 March 2021

Power Plays
by Maureen Ulrich
Published by Wood Dragon Books
Review by Michelle Shaw
$18.99 ISBN 9781989078273

In this first book in the Jessie Mac Hockey Series, we are introduced to fourteen-year-old Jessie McIntyre, the new girl at Estevan Junior High. In Saskatoon, at her old school, Jessie was part of a close group of friends. Now, not only does she not have any friends but one of the girls, Kim, a real bully, makes every day of Jessie’s life a nightmare. Things get even worse when Jessie somehow manages to get on the bad side of a group of older kids who have a really scary reputation. She can’t tell her parents. They think she’s the one being difficult.

Jessie’s mom discovers that the local girls’ hockey team is in desperate need of players and signs her up, hoping to give her daughter a fresh start. But Jessie is a ringette player. She’s never played hockey before and she is horrified at what her mother has done. She’s also convinced that the other girls consider her a troublemaker and don’t want her on the team. But slowly Jessie begins to learn the game and fit in, and life starts looking up. Until her nemesis, Kim, joins the team. Another problem arises when Jessie and Kim end up falling for the same guy. There is so much happening in this book that it races along like a fast-paced hockey game.

Power Plays also deals with the important issue of bullying, specifically girl-on-girl violence. I was on the edge of my seat many times with some of the confrontations between Jessie and the other kids.

The Jessie Mac Hockey Series is aimed at a YA audience and is obviously ideal for lovers of hockey. But for those of us who don’t know our power play from our slapshot, there’s a handy “Jessie Mac dictionary” at the back of the book with all the hockey-specific terms one might need. I was so caught up in Jessie’s world that I kept turning the pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen next.

Power Plays was originally published in 2007 (this is the revised edition) and won a Moonbeam gold medal award. It was also a finalist for the Saskatchewan Book Awards, the Snow Willow Awards, and the BC Young Readers Choice (Stellar) Awards. There are now two other books in the Jessie Mac series and the fourth book, Shoot Out, will be published in Spring 2021.

Maureen Ulrich was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan but grew up in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. In 1976, Maureen returned to Saskatoon to attend university and graduated in 1980 with an education degree. Her first teaching assignment was Lampman, Saskatchewan and she has pretty much lived there ever since. Maureen has been writing plays for young people since 1997 and has also written and produced several professional adult productions.


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