________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 2 . . . . September 16, 2005


One on One.

Cathy Beveridge.
Saskatoon, ON: Thistledown Press, 2005.
235 pp., pbk. $9.95.
ISBN 1-894345-80-0.

Subject Headings:
Hockey stories.
Fathers and sons-Juvenile fiction.
Truthfulness and falsehood-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Pam Klassen-Dueck.

*** /4


His father drew back slightly. "We go to court tomorrow and then you'll see. They're not going to find me guilty."

"Even if you are?"

"And what makes you think that I'm guilty?"

Sean took a deep breath. "How about the fact that you didn't tell Mr. Karoline about the hydrogen sulphide concentration and . . . "

"I didn't know what it was." His father almost shouted the response.

"Yes you did. Art told you when he called."

"So he says, but I don't remember him telling me."

"You should." Sean pulled the message out of his jeans' pocket and held it up for his father to see. "It says so right here."

His father's face paled. He reached for the message, but Sean retracted it and tucked it back into his pocket. "Where did you get that?"

Sean has been under a lot of pressure lately. His mother is away caring for her ill sister, his father faces litigation for questionable practices on his oil rig, and Sean is trying to catch the eye of figure-skater Laura. On top of all that, he is vying for a coveted goalie position on Alberta's elite Mustangs hockey team -- and his dad will stop at nothing to force Sean's success. When Sean discovers evidence linking his family's lawsuit and the death of Laura's father, he takes it upon himself to conduct his own inquiry into his dad's ethics.

     One on One moves at a fast clip through the worlds of junior league hockey and the oilfields of Alberta to create a story that is distinctly Canadian. The games are rapidly sketched to draw in its young adult audience. Even with little knowledge of hockey, readers will not have trouble enjoying the play-by-plays as Beveridge explains many of the game's mysteries and rituals as the story unfolds: "Each of [the goalies] lifted his stick by way of acknowledgment and Sean did the same. The greeting was a unique gesture among goalies." The hockey storyline's immediate accessibility will persuade readers to continue through the more technical jargon of Alberta's oil production to an understanding about an important aspect of Canadian economics.

     The accessibility of the story and its characters is also assisted by doses of humour, particularly between Sean and his rivals during try-outs: "Last year, every conversation with K.J. and Rudy had been an insult contest. It appeared that the tradition would continue." Sean's smirky sense of humour, in fact, contributes to his character's authenticity which becomes more and more real as he becomes torn between his own morals and his loyalty to his father.

     Despite the high-interest topic of hockey, however, middle years students may not remain interested in this story because of the dense amount of oil-related scientific jargon: "Art had reported more fluid than anticipated and that fluid had tested at 13 ppm hydrogen sulphide." As a result, One on One is directed to sports-loving high school students.


Pam Klassen-Dueck is a Grade 8 teacher at Gillis School in Tyndall, MB.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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