Monday, 1 October 2018

Teebz Hits The Town

Since I failed rather hard in my attempt to do more reading this summer, I jumped at the chance to head down to my local McNally Robinson bookstore this evening to listen to one of Canada's best authors talk about her experiences with the game of hockey. Angie Abdou, the author of Home Ice: Reflections of a Reluctant Hockey Mom, was in town thanks to ECW Press to sign a few copies and talk about her book with Dr. Douglas Brown, Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management at the University of Manitoba, and the crowd of about 30 people who gathered to hear her speak. Being one of those people, I thought it would be a good primer in getting some insight on a book I am very interested in reviewing!

I want to say upfront that Miss Abdou was delightful and engaging with the crowd before and after she spoke about the book, meeting virtually everyone at the event. She had many friends and colleagues show up to support her among the crowd that gathered, and there were many copies of Home Ice sold at the event which is always nice to see.

This isn't a book review - that will come shortly - but Miss Abdou spoke about Home Ice in a way that is personal to her since the book is a memoir about one year of following her nine year-old son, Ollie, and the experiences and encounters she had over that year. She was very honest in her conversation with Dr. Brown about some of the negative experiences she faced, but stated and emphasized that, regardless of the hockey culture surrounding the game, Ollie still loved the game and she would continue to support him as long as that love for the game persevered.

It was a night where we, as the crowd, got to see inside the writing process as well. Miss Abdou spoke at length about how she transitioned from being a highly-regarded fiction writer to writing about herself and the process that went into writing Home Ice. She spoke about the challenges of living in smaller town - Fernie, BC - and writing about local hockey within the town from her perspective where people or events that she wrote about in Home Ice may be contested or debated by the people of the town. Admittedly, she said she struggled with these encounters which caused her anxiety, but she has found a sure-fire way in dealing with these encounters by simply asking why people aren't talking about what she or Ollie experienced.

From hyper-masculinity to her son's emotional state to practices where coaches used "old school tactics and drills", Miss Abdou talked a lot about how she viewed things that happened, but admittedly had to shift her perspective to understand how Ollie experienced these things as well. Most often, it sounded like Ollie would seem less affected than Angie was when something seemed off, but it's fairly clear that Miss Abdou discovered a number of things in minor hockey that don't belong in the game at that level and should be examined further.

I thought it was interesting that not only does Miss Abdou write this book as a memoir, but she did a ton of reading and research on the various aspects of hockey that do require more examination that she includes in Home Ice. She did extensive research in understanding why tiers exist in hockey at all age groups - AAA, AA, A, B, etc. - and how they may not be necessary. She read a number of studies and research papers on concussions in minor hockey and the prevalence of concussions in contact sports. In other words, Angie tackles the questions she raises in the memoir with some solid facts based in science and research, and I'm hoping I get smarter as I read Home Ice!

I want to go on record and thank Angie Abdou for making time to meet her fans and friends at McNally Robinson tonight, and I'm hoping sales remain high as she tours across the country. Get out and get yourself a copy of Home Ice if you can or hit your local library and check out a copy of the book because it sounds like it is an amazing read! If that book is out, maybe check out her works of fiction in the meantime. Either way, get out and support Angie Abdou because she's legitimately a great author who deserves your support!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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