Hat Trick, Jeff Adams
Publisher: Queerteen Press
Genre: YA, LGBT (G), Sports
Length: 282 pages
“From the first time I saw him on the ice when practice started up for our junior year, I was attracted to him.”
When I started reviewing books I told myself (after being told by others) that a book that makes me cry is worthy of 5 stars. Unfortunately while Hat Trick did achieve this, it was let down by a couple of crucial factors. That being said this was still a really great book.
The book starts, and Central High Falcons have just won the opening match of the ice hockey season. Since Simon’s best friend and teammate, Jackson, is off sick, he and Alex, the star players of the team, are bunking together in the accommodation for this away game. Late in the night, over a pizza, the pair confess to each other that they’re both gay and attracted to each other, communicated through a surprise kiss.
The pair start dating and quickly grow to love each other. They tell selected people about the relationship as it progresses such as Jackson and Alex’s parents. These people accept they’re love for what it is as was expected by Simon and Alex. The season continues progressing well for the team until, by chance, one teammate observes Alex kissing Simon. The incident causes a rift within the team and throws Simon’s life into chaos.
The story continues by exploring the fallout generated by the relationship and how Alex and Simon overcome these obstacles.
Winning the Championship (A.K.A. The Parts I Loved)
Sporting fiction rarely involves LGBT characters and this is a shame. I have always enjoyed how team relationships and dynamics play out when presented with challenges. Hat Trick captures this perfectly by realistic portraying how the dynamics change through the season as people discover Simon and Alex’s relationship, as well as when challenged by other events that develop in the story.
When the rift is caused within the team it is wonderful to see how certain members strongly support their longtime friends and conversely how others seem to forget their friendship ever existed. How the team bonds by the end of the season brought me to tears and I am truly grateful to the author for writing this excellent story with a background of sport.
Fear and Doubt
Simon does not have an outwardly difficult time adjusting to the whole idea of being gay and having a boyfriend. However at certain times the reader can see how fear and doubt overtake his mind when his life begins imploding. He sees the negative effects his relationship has on others and forgets of the joy created as well. This battle within himself is intriguing and entertaining to read, capturing the uncertainty present within teenage minds.
Odd Story Structure
The story structure of Hat Trick is odd (I love odd stuff) and this is quite refreshing for me. By the relationship starting in the opening pages the story can instead tell the tale of Simon and Alex’s life together. This is rare in YA LGBT novels and I truly loved it. By starting each chapter with newspaper articles we can see how the world is reacting to the events taking place in the novel. Overall I believe that Hat Trick was very well written in terms of story structure.
Losing in the Last Minutes (A.K.A. What Brought it Down)
By far the biggest letdown for me in Hat Trick was how the relationship between Simon, his father and brother played out. The pair were homophobic to say the least and hated that Simon was gay.The fact that this forced him out of home and destroyed his relationship with both of them is all perfectly logical and realistic, this kind of situation occurs very regularly.
The situation turned melodramatic however when Zack first attempted to coax Simon into returning home and dealt with the rebuff by assaulting Alex. Despite the fact that a character dies trying to save Alex, Zack is charged for this incident, but he is not repentant in the slightest. This feels like a somewhat unjustified and unrealistic reaction taking the story more into melodrama which I find unsavoury. After this whole assault incident Simon is subsequently kidnapped and tortured by his father who blames him for the destruction of their family unit. Again this feels just completely over the top and takes the story away from realism and into melodrama.
I feel that the relationship between these three could have been resolved in far better ways. Quite often stories devolve into melodrama to create action and Hat Trick is among these. I was disappointed that a book with such a good, solid plot was let down by this style of storytelling.
Minor Editing Issues
In multiple books from Queerteen Press now I have been presented with some editing issues. This isn’t involving major plot holes or anything along those lines, but instead it’s the small things. Throughout the book there were the occasional misspelt words but worse was that it was really let down in terms of quotation marks. At times another character starts talking with no markings and you have to double take to work out that the speaker has changed.
It did not draw away from the story too much but it gave me the feeling that the book required a final polishing edit before release.
At the core of Hat Trick there is an excellent story of a star crossed couple, who stand out as an exemplary couple for advancing the cause of LGBT acceptance in society. The story did have me crying at one point and any story that can elicit that emotion from me is well worth reading. My rating was brought down by the aforementioned shortcomings of the book, but if you are willing to overlook these for an overall good story I strongly recommend you read this book.
“It was a perfect night.”
This book was supplied to Greedy Bug by the author in return for an honest review.