Pucked - Rachel Walter
Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life? Riley Silk, captain of the Warrior’s Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals. Audrey Jacobs, the Warrior’s number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can. Then lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path. Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely? Who keeps the puck?
**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**
Definitely a YA novel with it's writing style and story line, Pucked is the story of Audrey and Riley. Audrey basically has the all-American family with her happily married parents and gaggle of brothers. Riley is her best friend and he comes from a highly dysfunctional home. His parents are divorced, he doesn't know where his dad is, his mother is a hot mess and is dating an abusive alcoholic, and Riley finds himself as primary caregiver to his six year old sister. Riley is basically in love with Audrey, except he is 100% focused on hockey and developing that into a career as he sees that as his only way out of his home and hometown. Audrey also is in love with Riley but she's sure he only sees her as a friend and she doesn't want to ruin their friendship.
The theme through this book really focuses on addiction and how that effects children in different ways, as well as parental alienation. Riley soon discovers the story he has heard from his mom about his father may not be totally true and that his father actually has wanted to be a part of his life. His mother does everything in her power to turn Riley and his sister against their father, but it's at the expense of the kids. She doesn't recognize how her actions are hurting them ultimately and it really has nothing to do with her. Riley also learns that love isn't an awful thing, that it's OK to rely on someone and it doesn't mean that they will inevitably hurt you, but also that shutting people out is hurtful and not beneficial to that other person.
It's a really great book that I think any teenager who is going through a parent's divorce (in any stage) could relate to. Even as a YA novel and me being a total adult (most days), I was pretty much hooked right away. I love a good teenage angst story and this was very much that, but also had a fast paced story line. On my Nook it came in at 308 pages and I was actually able to get it done in a day because though lengthy, it felt like a quick read. SO many things happens to poor Riley that it's a miracle the kid keeps it together, but Audrey does a bang up job doing her best helping him through it. It's really nice to see a story that unfortunately, so many teenagers are going to be able to relate to, written well and covers heavy topics without being horribly depressing.