Summary: Aaron Wong is a rookie who has moved from Vancouver to Calgary to play on the Podium Sports Academy hockey team. With a promise to his parents to keep his grades above 95%, Aaron’s under a lot of pressure on and off the ice. A new friend/love interest named Carrie in Aaron’s life inflames the jealousy of Rammer, a teammate, and when the rookies are hazed he threatens Aaron with something unspeakable. To get revenge and assuage his humiliation, Aaron ups his game, determined now more than ever to show up Rammer on the ice. But when Rammer’s violence escalates and Aaron learns of other things he’s done, silence and revenge on the ice will not be enough to fix the issue.
Number of Pages: 138
Age Range: 13-15
Review: In a new province starting a new school and getting used to a new hockey team, Aaron Wong is pretty mature for his age, pursuing his love of hockey even though it takes him away from his family. At Podium Sports Academy, everyone is an athlete, and while such a driven community fosters friendships, it also fosters competition and jealousy.
When his teammate carries his jealousy too far, Aaron decides the best way to get back at him is just to be a better hockey player. He pours his embarrassment, frustration and anger into his game, and the results speak for themselves.
While I’m not sure I agree with Aaron not telling anyone in charge what actually happened at the hazing party, I did love how he dealt with it. He could have used what happened as an excuse to get Rammer back in a physical way, but instead he becomes a better hockey player, and conquers Rammer through proving his worth on the team.
Though Nicholson makes her villain, Rammer, complicated because of the abuse he receives at home, I was quite disturbed that at the end of everything he and his friend are expelled but no more. I had a smattering of empathy for him, but believed he needed to be held accountable for his choices and actions, because being abused is still not an excuse to hurt and abuse others. I think Nicholson and Aaron’s parents have more empathy than I do in this situation, but Aaron’s parents didn’t know Carrie had been abused by Rammer too.
It was Carrie though that I cared the most about. She blamed herself for what happened with Rammer, even though it wasn’t her fault. She’s also under an enormous amount of pressure to stay thin to be a Synchro swimmer, and seems as though she has an eating disorder. Nicholson has written a separate book about her, Vegas Tryouts, and I am interested in reading it.
I like the concept of the series and Rookie turned out to be a high interest read suitable for reluctant readers. I think sports lovers will enjoy what Nicholson has to offer.
“If I hadn’t been in a school hallway, and in a new school, with a girl I’d just met, I would’ve kissed her on the spot. Okay, that’s a lie. I wouldn’t have. We just met. And I was kind of inexperienced with girls. But boy, did I want to.” – Aaron from Rookie by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, page 31
“I was going to fight this. I was going to slam him into the boards, slash him, spear him, and become a better player than him. I was going to work my butt off along the boards and take the puck from him. And if he wanted to fight, I’d do that too. I’d taken boxing in the summer, I knew how to throw a punch. But it would be on the ice.
And I was going to do everything I could to take his spot on the first line.” – Aaron from Rookie by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, page 66