CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 8. . . October 27, 2017
Janine Burnett had everything going for her. A star athlete at hockey and popular high school student, she is looking ahead to the future. Life couldn’t get any better.
However, it could get worse. On the way home from Janine’s team winning the provincial hockey championship, Janine and her parents are involved in a terrible car accident. Janine and her mother are badly hurt. Janine suffers a spinal cord injury and is paralyzed. She will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Life has turned upside down for Janine, and she feels as if she is living her worst nightmare. Nothing makes sense, and her mood and attitude match this dark, tragic part of her life. She reacts as most people, including teenagers, would. She is continually rude to her best friend, Rowena. It’s as if Janine is trying to distance herself from her friends. She is insulting to Marlon, the only other student at her school who has to ride the special-needs van. She is hurtful and dismissive to her parents. Janine just wants to be left alone in her misery. However, Rowena is nothing if not faithful and loyal, and she drags Janine to a sledge hockey practice. Rowena promises to be on the sledge hockey team as an able-bodied person if Janine will stick with it as well. At the same time, Janine job-shadows her father for a day on a school assignment. He is a sports writer, and Janine comes to understand that the world is not at all friendly nor truly accessible to people in wheelchairs. It takes a while, but soon Janine finds a new sport and a new passion in her new life.
Janine is a very realistic and likeable, although at times, annoying character. As well, the situations she finds herself in are depicted in very real ways. The author does a great job of describing Janine’s new life in ways that readers will understand and for which they will have compassion. As Janine learns to navigate her school from a wheelchair, she encounters many obstacles that are invisible to able-bodied individuals. The author does a wonderful job of putting the reader in Janine’s wheelchair.
It is very realistic that Janine would eventually find another sport, and sledge hockey is a great choice. The author has taken the time to really understand the sport, and his play-by-play descriptions put the reader on the ice with Janine. My guess is that many able-bodied readers will want to try sledge hockey after reading about it in this book.
Toward the end of the story, Janine grows into her new self. She takes her class on a tour of the school, showing them how difficult it is for her to reach things like the push-button for the automatic doors and door handles. She also writes an essay for her teacher and presents it in class about following her father for a day and finding the world complicated and prohibitive to people in wheelchairs. By the end of the story, it is clear that Janine will continue the fight for accessibility for herself and wheelchair-bound people.
I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. I found myself wondering what would happen next. The characters were true to life, and I enjoyed them. I loved the action of sledge hockey and sometimes felt as if I were playing the sport myself. Through the descriptive passages in the book, I found myself in the wheelchair with Janine, struggling to open doors and squeezing into the school’s only elevator beside boxes which had been left there for storage. Janine and her story will open many eyes to things able-bodied people take for granted and will shed a bright light on sledge hockey.
Stick Pick, part of the “Lorimer Sports Stories” series, is an exciting addition to the series.
Mary Harelkin Bishop is the author of the “Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventure” series published by Coteau. She has also published a biography about Canadian Paralympic Champion Colette Bourgonje, entitled Moving Forward and a picture book version called Gina’s Wheels. Her latest book, Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone (2016) deals with the relationship between a Cree boy and a boy of European descent as they get to know one another and realize the land is important to both of them. Currently she is an Instructional Consultant for Saskatoon Public Schools.
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This Creative Commons license allows you to download the review and share it with others as long as you credit the CM Association. You cannot change the review in any way or use it commercially.
Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.