Review: Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie S. Allen

“There’s only one high school hockey team left in this town. Tryouts are in two days. I’ll be there.”

– Carrie S. Allen

Release Date: October 1, 2019
Thank you to Kids Can Press and NetGalley for an eARC of this book!

When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …

The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up – even if it means putting her future on the line

Does anyone else just kind of skim book descriptions when trying to decide whether to read something or not? This is apparently my ultimate weakness, but it has lead to some pretty good surprises. I read the first part of the summary for Michigan vs. the Boys and knew I needed to read it. I love when girls step up and challenge guys, especially in sports. I thought I was getting something similar to Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. Instead I got a book that handled both physical and sexual assault the right way, strong friendships and a good family dynamic all combined with a kicka** hockey playing girl that can hold her own with the boys.

At the start of Michigans’ Junior year of high school, her and her best friend are running the girls hockey team and are on top on the world. Then the rug is pulled out from under her, the team is being disbanded due to financial issues with the school. Suddenly her best friend is moving to Chicago and her teammates are all going their own separate ways with other sports or distant teams. With no options left why not take a shot act trying out for the boys hockey team. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

This book has a little of everything in it. The friendships between the girls was so genuine. While Michigan starts the book feeling like a one man team floating alone, her friends were always there for her if she needed them and showed up to have her back at the most crucial time. She also had the support of her little brother the whole time. He looked up to her but also had her back. Jack Ray, the lover interest, was also so supportive and encouraged Michigan even when he didn’t know what was going on. While I thought the romance was a little too insta-relationsip/love, I liked Jack as a character and loved how he supported and set Michigan straight.

Assault is no joke and I thought the author did a fantastic job of handling this taboo topic properly. As the only girl on an all boys team, one would imagine a bit of hazing to happen but in a good spirited, non-harmful way that eventually ends in the boys excepting her as an integral part of the team. What Michigan experienced was beyond that. This novel is about Michigan trying to decide where the line between the guys “having some fun” and “assault” is. She feels alone, isolated from her friends and family while going through this. If she tells it will make her seem weak and could potentially take hockey out of her life. I don’t want to give too much away, but she does wait too long and is fortunate to have her friends and family stand behind her while she tries to rectify the situation.

Overall I’d say this is a powerful read that other young women need to read. It tackles hard topics but also has some light moments in it that helps to balance it out. Michigan is such a strong and admirable character that is a good role model for other girls to look up to. While it is about hockey, it keeps it light without too much details just key game moments. There is a cute fluff romance with a swoon-worthy swimmer.and a great supportive group of gal-pals who really come through for each other. I 10/10 recommend this read for the fall.

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