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Monday, November 20, 2017

#HockeyStrong by E. Robuck

#HockeyStrong by E. Robuck
Published by Elysian Fields Press ISBN 9780982229811
Trade paperback, $15, 324 pages
Ebook available $4.99
I just read a news article that said that the night before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest nights of the year for reading. I guess everybody traveling by plane and train leaves lots of time for a good book. (Just please don't read and drive- I can't believe that people actually do that.)

If you're looking for a good, quick read for the night before Thanksgiving, I have a great suggestion.

E. Robuck has written a very funny and pointed satire #HockeyStrong that will appeal to anyone who has spent time freezing their gloved hands off at a hockey rink, football stadium or baseball field. (My sons played high school baseball in Central New York in April- yeah, I wore my winter coat, hat, gloves and boots.)

Kate and Charlie Miller's 11-year-old son Brett made the cut for the elite travel team for hockey. Coach Butch has declared that hockey comes first- before school, before family, before vacations. When he sends a group text announcing an emergency practice IN ONE HOUR, if you don't show up, you are benched. If he can get them into a tournament at the last minute, you end your family vacation and come back. In "a season that will last as long as a pregnancy, and costs as much as a small island in the Caribbean", your family life will revolve around hockey and nothing else.

The Millers don't completely buy into the entire 'hockey is life' scenario. They don't think that Brett is headed straight to the NHL, even though he is the best scorer on the team. Coach Butch doesn't like Charlie because he never played hockey as a kid, and he takes that out on Brett. Brett just wants to play hockey with his buddies.

Robuck's hockey parents are an exaggerated group (or maybe not?). There is a dad who keeps a detailed binder for his son titled "Kyle's Path to Hockey Greatness."  Bill and Tina Church's wardrobe consists solely of clothes emblazoned with their son's name and number (in team colors of course- and they are sales representatives for the company that sells them if you would like some for yourself. The team gets a cut of the action!). They also host a podcast about being a sports parent.

Piper ignores her two young daughters, and is social media maven, immediately posting updates about the team and her son's progress to Facebook. The competition between Kate and Piper to post first is hilarious. Piper also has a drinking problem and embarrasses herself and her family more than once.

There are parking lot fist fights between moms, a child disqualified because his parents lied about his age, a child trying to play with a broken foot, a parent who surruptiously sprinkles protein powder on her son's Nutella- the level of craziness seems both unbelievable and familiar at the same time.

Robuck spent many years sitting on the sidelines, and her imagination ran wild in this book, which she states is based on no one in particular, but the reader may recognize the character types here.

I highly recommend #HockeyStrong for those who have already finished with the sports parent scenario or those just looking for a really good laugh. Maybe your family won't seem so crazy this Thanksgiving once you've met the Polar Bears' parents.

Erika Robuck's website is here.


  1. I've been through this with other sports and have friends going through it now so I'm sure I'd enjoy it too.

  2. I loved the pace of #HockeyStrong... the dialogue carries the reader through the whitewater rapids of parental emotion behind the glass. I also liked the incorporation of social-media blurbs as chapter headers/intros.