CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2005
After a successful hockey season, Josh Watson is thrilled to be invited to an elite summer hockey camp. His enthusiasm is only kept in check by the serious illness he must deal with on a continual basis: Josh is diabetic. He must check his blood sugar often, keep a stash of snacks, and administer embarrassing insulin shots—all while he attempts to maintain his condition secret from the other players.
When Josh discovers that Kevin Jennings, a star junior player, is also attending camp, he is over the moon. In hopes of becoming friends, he goes along with everything Kevin says and does, even when his conscience cautions him otherwise.
Josh's roommate, Peter Kuiksak, a talented player from the Northwest Territories, gives Kevin a run for his money on the ice and soon becomes the target of Kevin's cruel pranks. As the prejudice becomes clearer and the pranks escalate, Josh must ultimately decide if he is going to stand by and watch the injustice or step up and put a stop to things.
Lorna Shultz Nicholson has created a sympathetic character in Josh, with whom children dealing with illness in their personal lives may identify. She has included hockey related phrases and terminology that contribute to the credibility of the text. The novel sends positive messages about living with an illness and standing up for what is right.
Roughing is the sequel to Interference and may be of interest to those familiar with the earlier novel. It may also appeal to avid readers who enjoy any sports-themed material; however, it is not gripping enough to hold the attention of reluctant readers. The title and cover are somewhat misleading. One would assume the novel to be crowded with explosive action, yet, this is not the case. Though the novel begins with a game scene and ends with one, most of the hockey action is confined to drills with little suspense and not much “roughing.” In fact, most of the action in this novel takes place off the ice.
Schultz Nicholson has incorporated several themes into her novel—dealing with an illness, bullying, prejudice and the dangers of hazing. It is this reviewer's opinion, however, that too many different themes have made the plot appear forced. Another consequence is that each important theme has been dealt with superficially. For example, the reader goes through the motions with Josh as he functions as a diabetic, checking blood-sugar levels, eating extra snacks, even administering insulin. And yet, we gain little insight into the emotional aspect of the disease.
Though the chapters are short and the language simple, unless done as a read-aloud, this reviewer does not recommend Roughing to children younger than nine.
Marina Cohen has a Master's degree in French Literature from the University of Toronto.
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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.