Power Forward – A Novel by Sylvain Hotte
Book review by Amanda Sweeney
Power Forward – A Novel is the second book in the Break Away series by Sylvain Hotte, translated by Casey Roberts. The book reveals the next step of Alex McKenzie’s journey in the hockey world. Making a team in the Canadian junior hockey league is Alex’s top priority, but we all know every journey has its setbacks. Without giving too much of the plot away, Hotte has Alex undergo challenges such as his new fling with a neighborhood girl, a constant struggle with an intense Terminator-like hockey buddy, and the pressure of performing at the expected level of surrounding individuals in the hockey world.
By only reading the summary provided on the back of the first book of the Break Away series, Break Away- Jessie on My Mind, I discovered that Alex experiences a romantic connection with a girl named Jessie. In Power Forward he enters a relationship with another local by the name of Chloe. I had no particular attachment to the relationship and no heartstrings were pulled when the two individuals were forced to separate at the time of Alex’s move to Quebec. Currently in a long-distance relationship myself, I found it odd that this had no effect on me and that I had no compassion for the two characters as a unit.
Hotte also puts a big emphasis on how Alex’s friend Tommy has evolved into a beast that excels in his hockey training. Anyone who knows his or her way around the sports world can predict throughout the story that this newfound strength is connected to some sort of performance enhancement procedure. However, it is only made clear at the end of the book that Tommy had been frequently injecting steroids into his system to give him his advantage. The author lays out the danger of turning to steroids to gain competitive edge very well to his readers. This problem is still evident today in numerous sports and I believe the punch factor that Hotte brings into his story hits the issue right on the nail.
Alex also has to deal with the pressure of performing to the expectations of everyone connected to the junior hockey league that surrounds him. Any person aiming to succeed in a sport will experience pressure. It may come from many outside sources like coaches, trainers, and family. Alex has a lot riding on his shoulders pushing him in the direction of becoming a great hockey player. The pressure, as well as the other tragic elements described in the story, force Alex to make a decision that could very well affect the rest of his life.
Although I think it would have been better to read the first novel prior to the second, I believe that Hotte still did an excellent job at capturing the main elements that can be found on the path to the junior hockey league. I can comfortably admit this since my younger brother, Jacob Sweeney, has recently been drafted into the league. The story is an excellent read for people finding themselves in a similar situation, but hopefully with fewer tragic twists.
Amanday Sweeney reviewed this book on behalf of LifeinQuebec.com.
Power Forward by Sylvain Hotte is available in Quebec City here: