by Frank Scalise
Publisher: Frank Scalise
Published: July 8, 2011
Eleven-year-old Sam Parker is a hockey player entering the first year in which body checking is allowed. His natural fear of getting hit is temporarily overshadowed by finding out his parents are getting divorced. Determined to keep them together by being a hockey superstar, Sam instead suffers a bone-crunching check from the school bully in his first game of the season. The resulting pain and fear brings out the worst in Sam as one difficulty after another piles on. Even his best friend, Jill, doesn’t always seem to understand what he’s going through. Sam has to learn how to get up after life knocks you down – both on and off the ice.
Sam has been playing hockey for his whole life and feels as comfortable on skates as he does breathing. Now he is 11 years old and has just moved up to Pee Wee level hockey where body checking is allowed. He has also just found out that his parents are getting a divorce. Things are about to change.
During one game Nate, the school/hockey bully checks Sam so hard that Sam gets a mild concussion and is out of commission for a few days. When he comes back he's afraid of getting hit again and keeps passing the puck instead of handling it on the ice as he should. The coach benches him.
Sam is in a quandary because he thinks if he stops playing hockey that will make his mom happy but if he plays, that will make his dad happy. He doesn't want to choose one parent over the other. He thinks the divorce is his fault.
I liked how this story shows youth that divorce is never the fault of the child. The child's actions cannot change whether or not the parents will divorce or not. But a person is responsible for whether they do something even though they are afraid to do it or not - in this case the example was to play hockey and risk a body check - and chances are pretty good you will survive.
I liked how Sam was able to transfer this life lesson over to his parent's divorce. He realized he could survive the upheaval it would cause in his life. He would be okay in the end
I liked that The Hardest Hit also included a girl on this all-boy hockey team. I think that all youth, boys and girls who enjoy hockey will enjoy this book. There was lots of action on the ice and off the ice and the pacing of the book of the book was very good. The story was interesting and would hold the attention of any youth in the Middle Grade (9 to 12 age) category. I gave it 5 stars out of 5.
Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
About the Author:
Frank was born and raised in Deer Park, Washington, just north of Spokane, Washington. He served in the U.S. Army as a linguist in military intelligence for five years. After working briefly for IBM in California, Frank returned to Spokane. He joined the Spokane Police Department in 1993 and still serves in that agency.
Around 1998, Frank discovered hockey. First as a spectator, then eventually as a player, he quickly fell in love with the sport. To him, it exemplifies the parts of life he values: hard work, teamwork, skill, courage and never quit. It was no surprise that this love for hockey found its way into his lifelong passion — writing.
Frank writes both adult and young adult fiction with hockey as a backdrop for the story. He remains a fan and a recreational player, along with his wife and family. He also writes crime fiction under the pen name of Frank Zafiro.