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All is fair in love and hockey…
Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.
Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.
It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.
For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.
Off The Ice had me at "Goalie". I happen to be very fond of goalies. Actually, I happen to be very fond of one particular goalie.
The one that I'm married to.
On our first date (um, several, several years ago) he asked if I liked hockey. I responded with, "Not really."
He nodded and said, "I play on four hockey teams."
At that point, I started shoving more food in my mouth to stop anything else from coming out.
Needlessly to say, I fell in love with him and, by default, hockey.
He still plays, by the way.
But, he's cut it back to one team.
Back to Off the Ice by Julie Cross, this is a great story that captures the sweet, raw emotion of young love. Told in alternating point-of-view, the authenticity of conflict these teens are facing sucks you right in. They are dealing with real problems. As someone who has spent most of my adult life working with high school students,it is refreshing to see the fact they face serious adversity rather than, "Oh, she can't stop thinking about that cute boy and she might fail Algebra! Whatever will she do?"
The issues Claire and Tate face delve into the dynamics of being part of a team, guarding family secrets and trying to find your way in that middle spot of not-quite-a-kid but not-really-grown.
I also enjoyed that the characters didn't wallow in their problems. They took action. Sometimes they screwed up, sometimes they made bad a decision, but they did something.
I will admit that reading about Claire caring for her dad was heart-wrenching. I've been in that position. There were so many times I wanted to scoop her into a hug and just cry with her.
The story is rounded out with some fun and interesting secondary characters that I look forward to seeing in the continuing series.
I would fully recommend this to anyone looking for a coming-of-age love story. The hockey references are kept at a level even someone who is still at my first-date-stage would understand.
One warning: This is listed as a young adult book, but it is definitely UPPER young adult. The physical part of Tate and Claire's relationship is described in very frank terms. So, the age and maturity of a teen reader would need to be a consideration.