A. L. Graziadei's Icebreaker is an irresistible YA debut about two hockey players fighting to be the best—and the romance that catches them by surprise along the way.
Seventeen-year-old Mickey James III is a college freshman, a brother to five sisters, and a hockey legacy. With a father and a grandfather who have gone down in NHL history, Mickey is almost guaranteed the league's top draft spot.
The only person standing in his way is Jaysen Caulfield, a contender for the #1 spot and Mickey's infuriating (and infuriatingly attractive) teammate. When rivalry turns to something more, Mickey will have to decide what he really wants, and what he's willing to risk for it.
This is a story about falling in love, finding your team (on and off the ice), and choosing your own path.
Mickey James III, who's white, loves hockey, but the steep expectations he's starting college at the school where his father and grandfather were hockey stars, and he's a projected top-two pick for the next NHL hockey draft weigh on him, amplifying his depression and anxiety. Plus, he's bisexual, which he worries won't go over well in "notoriously homophobic" hockey circles and with the media, even if the school's athletic department has a zero-tolerance bigotry policy. Even so, Mickey can't help noticing how attractive Jaysen "Cauler" Caulfield, his teammate and prickly rival for first pick, is. On paper, Mickey's the consummate insider, whereas Cauler is Black in a largely white sport, has already sustained a career-threatening injury, and, Mickey's starting to think, might be gay. Debut author Graziadei clearly knows the sport, but even readers who don't will enjoy a tale that's more than just enemies-to-lovers. At 17, narrator Mickey's never really bothered making friends, and now he's on a team that insists its players get along; their friendly byplay and love for the game, Mickey's loving relationship with his sisters, and the book's nuanced discussion of mental health make for a complex read. Ages 14 up.