Howard Shapiro, noted author of other illustrated novels such as Hockey Days, Hockey Player for Life, and the first part in his "Forever Friends" trilogy, the Stereotypical Freaks, has recently released The Hockey Saint. This short illustrated novel, with art by Marica Inoue, follows Jeremiah Jacobson, the world's best hockey player, in his quest to be not only a better person but a more private one. He does this with the help of college player Tom Leonard, whose meeting with his idol is an unusual one, as is his relationship with him. From the publisher:
The much anticipated sequel to the award winning "The Stereotypical Freaks" taking place two years after "Freaks" ends. Twenty-one year old Jeremiah Jacobson is the world's best hockey player, but he wasn't prepared for the frenzy and scrutiny that came with that title. Tom Leonard is an average college sophomore... just a guy trying to find his place in the world as he sorts through issues that are both very real and seemingly insurmountable. Through a chance meeting, these two strike up an unlikely friendship. Their bond is tested when Tom discovers that his idol isn't as perfect up close as he seems from afar. With Jeremiah living a little too much in the moment and with his past catching up to him, will Tom be able to help him before it's too late?
Shapiro's character development is surprisingly well done for a manga style graphic novel that is targeted toward young adults. If any of our avid Game Timers have teenage sons, or know a teenager who is a hockey fan, it offers strong morals and encouragement of philanthropic activities with the added perk of encouraging charity for charity's sake. So often we see companies and wealthy individuals crow about fundraising efforts or charitable works - it comes across as jaded PR, nothing more and nothing less.
It receives a four and a half star rating on Amazon.com from readers. From a review:
I really enjoyed reading this novel. The many twists and turns in the story's plot made the reading experience entertaining and I never wanted to skip a page. You can also find song recommendations that fit the mood of each chapter. I found those recommendations to be quite accurate and I felt that the recommended music almost spoke along with the story.
Though I do not usually read graphic novels, I found this book especially enjoyable. The artwork was truly beautiful and I felt that it greatly enhanced my reading experience.
The book covers a lot of really heavy stuff, death of parents, loss, alcoholism, promises and secrets and how they can eat away at life, a person, or even blow up in your own face... it was an emotional roller-caster of a graphic novel but in the best of ways. I highly recommend this book.
It's after the holidays, but I'm a huge fan of gift-giving year round. If you have a youngster who enjoys reading comic books (or who just enjoys reading), I very much suggest ordering them a copy or downloading them the Kindle version. The Hockey Saint is an interesting juxtaposition of morals and a word of warning about those we treat as idols.