Book Review: The Cup
Reviewed by Joe Walters
A touching love letter to sport, community, and Canada
The Cup by D.P. Hardwick is an atmospheric middle grade hockey novel set in the early 1970s. On New Year’s Eve, the kids in Manitoba, Canada will gather together to play their version of game seven of the Stanley Cup: it’s the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens. While the big game might be taking place in the street in front of their homes, it’s a game we all know will bring the drama, the heartache, and, for someone, the triumph.
Each kid playing in the game gets their own story in Hardwick’s The Cup. Varying from troubles at home to troubles everywhere, these player stories offer good reminders to middle grade readers that their classmates and peers have more going on than what they see on the surface.
Author D.P. Hardwick adds a nice interactive element to the novel by providing a playlist of music to go along with the varying perspectives and the Stanley Cup story. With a good array of potentially unheard songs to accompany the scenes, it provides a cool excuse for readers to thrust themselves into the world of the story and maybe feel like they’re watching it on screen.
The cozy hot-cocoa atmosphere is a shining element to this already enjoyable novel. Friends and family gather together over shared interests while snow comes drifting down onto coats and windows. The novel understands the role of a good sports story in that it’s about the people first and the game second, but it constantly celebrates the wonders of sport through its nuances, its community, and its unlikely heroism. The novel is romantic in the sense that it loves hockey deeply, that it recognizes the harshness of Manitoba winters and can still fall deeply in love with them anyway.
There’s a lot to like in this story, but it’s true that at times it feels like there are more anecdotes than story. The pages can flit by without much motivation or stakes, and the vignettes about characters can meander without many repercussions on the plot. These stories can be filled with unnecessary details, so the novel as a whole may read slower than its low page count.
Nonetheless, The Cup is a nostalgic, hockey-loving novel with a big heart. This could be a great read for sports-loving kids who need to recognize just how powerful their games and community can be.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction / Sports
Print Length: 194 pages
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