Jennifer A. Irwin, author
Jennifer A. Irwin holds a master’s degree in English literature, as well as a bachelor's in education from McGill University. She teaches middle and senior school English at Lower Canada College. She lives in Montreal, Quebec, with her husband and two sons. Captain Skidmark Dances with Destiny is her first novel.
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Navigating adolescence is hard; family dynamics can make it even harder.
Thirteen-year-old Will Stone feels like a loser. He’s a skittish new student at Boundary Street Middle School in Evanston, Ontario. His dad, the new principal, has cachet as a former professional hockey player, while Will has earned a special level of disgrace after scoring a goal for the opposing team. Things might be looking up with the news that his cousin Alex, 17, will be coming from cosmopolitan Montreal to live with them. Will sees a potential cool protector. Instead, Alex turns out to be a surly slob. Worse, he becomes the hockey team’s new assistant coach. Deliverance comes unexpectedly: Will’s kinetic ricocheting as he flees bullies attracts the eye of Jesús Rodriguez, who invites Will into his dance studio. Will is leery, but the flattery of attractive Tessa Harper seals the deal. Will’s hockey skills fail to improve, but he doesn’t care as he tears it up on the dance floor, and his self-esteem blossoms. Now, how to break this news to his hockey-fanatic family? If the first half of Irwin’s bubbly debut is about finding one’s bliss, the second half tackles deeper, related questions about identity and masculinity. The first-person narrative sometimes feels too sophisticated for the hyper hero, but there’s consistent humor, compassion in abundance, and relatable characters. Will and his family read White; some ethnic diversity is cued in the supporting cast.
Adolescent angst and its issues unpacked with a caring, comic eye.
Page count: 320
51/2 x 81/4