CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007
Continuing with the world established by Sigmund Brouwer in his previous novels for “Orca Sports,” Brouwer again combines hockey and mystery with the 2007 title Blazer Drive.
Brouwer successfully adopts a double backdrop of cattle ranch life in interior British Columbia and the world of the Western Hockey League (WHL, which includes both Canadians and Americans) as the setting for the adventures of 17-year-old Josh Ellroy’s adventure, the unlikely recipient for the Kamloops’ Blazer’s hockey Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. The events of the novel take place around Josh’s attempt to be noticed and picked up by a National Hockey League (NHL) team.
As per usual, Sigmund Brouwer excels in his descriptions of hockey matches, which is likely why his books are so popular among his young male audience. Describing a scene in which the coach asks Josh to join the line of his rival, Luke Zannetti, Brouwer writes:
The plot of the novel switches between two focuses, the first of which is the difficulty of Luke’s antagonism towards Josh and the rest of his own team. While Josh is a very understanding character, Luke manages to provoke him with his constant arrogance and mysteriously diminishing hockey skills. As the former best player on the team, Luke now is the contributing factor in the team’s losses. Josh retaliates with kindness and an attempt to understand his troubled teammate, responses which are met with a puzzling resistance. Josh also emerges as the team’s premier player and piques the interest of the NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres. Brouwer creates a very positive role model in Josh, continually building his understanding and tolerance despite the adversity of the situation:
The second focus in the novel is the mystery surrounding the slaughter of Josh’s father’s world class Limousin bull, Big Boy. Josh join forces with Stephanie Becker, someone he met under rather embarrassing circumstances when he received his MVP a year earlier. Together, the two investigate leads which might explain the death of not only Big Boy, but of other world class Limousin bulls in the area (Stephanie’s bull, Champion, was also slaughtered).
Josh is, by far, Sigmund Brouwer’s most interesting and developed hockey playing character. He is kind, perceptive, and intelligent. When Josh takes Stephanie to his parents’ ranch to show her the site of where Big Boy and a dozen other cattle were slaughtered, Brouwer describes Josh’s thoughts:
Josh’s character is also very well developed. Brouwer includes several interchanges between Josh and his father, who appear to be very close. This novel is also particularly moral as Josh’s father plays the role of an encouraging and supportive moral force. It is apparent he has taught his son to be a considerate individual, endowed with the abilities to make the right choice in difficult situations.
As the two plot foci come together, Josh’s father’s teachings come into play. Josh brings Luke along when he goes to meet Stephanie to investigate another lead. It turns out that Josh’s kindness and understanding save his life; Luke begins to trust his rival and begins to open up with his new friend and confidant.
I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who has any interest in hockey and solving mysteries. Brouwer’s novel, Blazer Drive, is an excellent combination of the sports-themed genre with mystery and teen novel elements.
Laura Ludtke is a candidate for a MA in Classics at Queen’s University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and reviewing children’s and teen’s literature.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.