i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.
Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie S. Allen
When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it’s time to even the score.
Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls’ hockey team off the ice this year.
If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there’s still one team left in town …
The boys’ team isn’t exactly welcoming, but Michigan’s prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and “harmless” pranks that always seem to target her.
But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up – even if it means putting her future on the line.
i have never joined any sports teams inside and outside of school, or played sports competitively, and i’m embarrassed to admit that yes, i know basically nothing about sports. in michigan vs. the boys, i was introduced to the world of swim and hockey meets, team spirit (or lack thereof) and high school showcases. but the book is so much more than that.
i went into this book expecting some bella and the bulldogs-esque plot, in which the guys admire the girl who outplays them and treats her as one of their own. but sadly, michigan vs. the boys is a much sadder story. once she joins the boys’ team, michigan is often mistreated by her teammates, and even sexually assaulted at one point. her determination and courage is so, so admirable. it’s heartbreaking seeing her try so hard to conceal her wounds and pain just so she can secure a hockey scholarship for her to go to college.
this is the separate-the-men-from-the-boys part. lucky for me, i’m all girl.michigan vs. the boys by carrie s. allen
but it’s still good to know that while some people are trying to hurt and take michigan down, there are also many good people in her life who’d do anything to protect and support her.
i loved michigan’s relationship with her family. they’re really close – her brother, trenton, is on the bantam hockey team, and i loved seeing how much he cares about her feelings – my favorite scene was the one where he sees michigan feeling sad, then cheers her up by practising hockey moves with her in the bathroom. and michigan’s parents are also so supportive – the both of them, michigan’s mom especially, don’t really approve of her playing on the boys’ team, but they must have realized how much hockey means to her at some point, because they let her join in the end.
michigan’s friendship with her former girls’ team teammates is also so amazingly positive. although at the beginning it seems that they’re all leaving her to go join other teams, or even try a different sport, i loved how they’re actually there for michigan all along, and silently giving her support. two of her friends even act as “bodyguards” and watch her practices to make sure her boys’ team teammates don’t hurt her on purpose.
the romance is also so good – i loved that while many of the boys in this book are horrible jerks who treat michigan harshly, michigan’s boyfriend jack is an absolute sweetheart. he’s a swimmer whose team gets cut too, and i really liked how he always encourages michigan to pursue her passion, and there’s so much respect and love in their relationship.
i don’t want to reveal too much about the ending, but that last part where the boys made confessions gave me literal goosebumps. in this time and age, when the sports scene is still sadly male-dominated, it’s amazing seeing girls stand up for what they believe in and play hard with determination, and i truly admire michigan for doing so.
to conclude, michigan vs. the boys is not your typical sports novel. it explores difficult topics like sexism, toxic masculinity and hazing, and also features a kick-ass heroine who is strong and determined. i loved this book and will certainly be keeping an eye out for more of carrie s. allen’s novels in the future!
expected publication date: 1 october, 2019
trigger warnings: attempted rape and sexual assault, physical violence, hazing
have you read michigan vs. the boys? do you have a favorite novel which features a female athlete? let me know in the comments!