by A.L. Graziadei
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Releasing on January 18th, 2022
NEW ADULT FICTION—Contemporary, Romance
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.
Representation: mlm focus relationship, bisexual main and side characters, polyamorous side relationship, wlw side relationship, depression, anxiety, Black side character, Italian-American main character
Trigger/Content Warning(s): Friends-with-Benefits, Anxiety, Depression, Disassociating, Minor Violence (fight), Underage Drinking, Minor Weed Mention, Acohol Used to Cope
*I WAS PROVIDED A DIGITAL GALLEY BY THE PUBLISHER IN RETURN FOR MY HONEST REVIEW. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION*
This book awoke so many emotions in me while reading. The representation that was on page made me cry, sob, smile and so many other things–I truly felt like I was seeing parts of myself spoken in the written words, and that experience alone made me add this book to my favorites shelf. Opening this book, I knew I would like it, but I didn’t anticipate how much I would truly love it.
A. L. Graziadei captured my heart through their writing style. Flipping on my Kindle to the first page of the first chapter, and my heart had been captured. Graziadei’s writing style calls to readers immediately. It pulls in and hooks and sinks into your mind as the words flow across each line of each paragraph. I started this book at midnight, and I finished it at nine at night, that’s how addicted I became. I’m not one so easily swayed by the writing of a book unless it really manages to capture my attention, and that’s exactly what Graziadei’s writing did.
To add to this, I adored the characters in this story. Mickey’s character hit extremely close to home for me, in the sense that it was almost like I was seeing a majority of the pieces of myself in him. Through his character, the representations of depression, bisexuality and anxiety were portrayed, and each of them were nailed directly. I honestly sobbed when Mickey spoke about what his depression did to him, especially when he spoke about disassociating and bombing a final because of it. Having that depicted on page meant so much to me, and it made my heart feel so full. But it wasn’t just Mickey’s character that I noticed, but it was also the multiple side characters too. Graziadei really put a lot of development into each of the characters that came into Mickey’s life throughout the book. I truly felt annoyed at the same time as Mickey when his rivalry with Jaysen (Caulfield) popped up throughout the book’s chapters, but I also could see the way Caulfield grew as a person with Mickey and as their first year of college came and went. It was also fascinating to get to see Mickey’s many sisters on page, and the relationship he had with each of them versus the tense relationship with his parents.
When it came to the plot of the story, I will admit, I thought there was a “before” to the story when I started reading. I had to check to make sure there wasn’t a previous book that I’d not known of, and when there wasn’t, I was a bit confused. Maybe it was the dynamics of the rivalry, but it felt like there was quite a bit of behind-the-scenes to this story that we were left in the dark on. This is mainly to Caulfield and Mickey’s “before,” meaning before they began attending the same college and before they found out they were on each other’s team. Despite this though, I really did love the rest of the plot and thoroughly enjoyed how it was written and developed from beginning to end.
For that, I rate this book 4.75 stars. This was an incredibly strong debut from A. L. Graziadei, and I will be looking forward to future releases from them. I highly encourage everyone to pick up this book before, on, or after its release because it’s, without a doubt, one you will not want to miss out on.
A.L. Graziadei was born in Buffalo, New York and raised on Sabres hockey and video games, using their free time to write books inspired by both. Now living in Wisconsin, A.L. still plays plenty of video games and is a proud member of the Displaced Buffalo Sabres Fans group. Icebreaker is their first book.