Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Thanks a Lot, John LeClair
SERIES: Here’s to You, Zeb Pike Book 2
AUTHOR: Johanna Parkhurst
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
LENGTH: 204 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2016
Sixteen-year-old Emmitt LaPoint has secretly been writing letters to his hockey idol, John LeClair, for years. So it’s probably only fitting that Emmitt’s small Vermont town seems desperate to make him the next LeClair. After all, Emmitt is about to lead his high school hockey team to the state championship, he has a near-perfect GPA, and he’s liked by almost everyone.
But even golden boys have problems, and Emmitt has more than his share. His father’s back in town to breathe down his neck. He’s happily dating his coach’s nephew, Dusty, but almost nobody knows he’s gay—and that secret is getting harder and harder to keep.
When Emmitt discovers Dusty is keeping secrets of his own, he’s forced to decide exactly what kind of golden boy he wants to be.
A Companion to Here’s to You, Zeb Pike
Since the moment he met former NHL star John LeClair, Emmitt has wanted nothing more than to play professional hockey. At sixteen, he hasn’t changed his mind. Even if it means that he has to keep his relationship with his boyfriend Dusty a secret from most of the world. For all that You Can Play says, there are no out professional hockey players and Emmitt doesn’t see that changing any time soon. But when his love of the game starts to put strain on his relationships–not only with Dusty but with his friends and family–he has to decide which matters more to him, his secret or the people he loves?
For the most part I enjoyed this story. Though I certainly feel like I would have gotten more out of it if I had read the first book in the series, Here’s to You, Zeb Pike, beforehand. In book one we get to see all these relationships come together (or fall apart) and while you can read this book as a standalone, it would probably be even better after having read book one.
As someone who had a rather tempestuous relationship with my father at nearly the same age as Emmitt, I can really sympathize with Emmitt and his little brother Casey. I really liked that their father wasn’t evil–if a bit of a dick–but also showed how hard it was on them to have him around and trying to have a part of their lives they were not ready to give back.
YA is not something I read a lot of, but seeing as this book was about hockey and I am about all things hockey, I decided to give it a go. And for the most part, I liked this aspect of the story. But since I tend to find teenage shenanigans a bit tiresome I think this book tended to slow down a bit too much for me in places it might not do so for others. It really wasn’t much of a problem overall, but I found their plan to get back at a certain someone to be kinda horrible. I can totally see why they wanted to do it–the guy was a bit of a douche, no argument there–but their solution wasn’t exactly any better.
Other than that, though, this really was an enjoyable story. The hockey was fun and all the characters were very well written. If you like YA sport stories, I think you will like this one. And maybe even if YA isn’t your bag, I would say give it a shot.