Review: Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

Review: Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei is a charming contemporary with a thought-provoking message. Following rival hockey players fighting for a spot in the NHL draft, this one contains a fair amount of drama and an unlikely romance. The main character and his struggles with depression are especially well-written, and I enjoyed the discussions of other social themes such as privilege in the world of sports. This is a heartfelt story that both hockey fans and those who, like myself, know next to nothing about the sport will enjoy. 

Review: Icebreaker by A.L. GraziadeiTitle: Icebreaker
Author: A.L. Graziadei
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genres: Contemporary
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Review: Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

A talented hockey player with a family legacy in the NHL, Mickey is a top contender for a spot in the upcoming NHL draft. However, when his rival ends up playing for the same college team, Mickey must work harder to earn his place. While Mickey and Jaysen are rivals, they are also teammates who must learn to work together, and as Mickey starts to get to know his teammate better, he realizes that Jaysen isn’t so bad, and that he may even like him. As Mickey and Jaysen’s relationship develops, they must decide what is important to them, and what they are willing to risk for it.

❀ Realistic Main Character

There is a lot of depth to Mickey’s character, and he is realistically portrayed. As the descendent of renowned hockey players, there are high expectations for him, and he struggles under this pressure, even losing some of his passion for hockey as a result. I found that Mickey’s mental health struggles are especially well-written, and I appreciated the discussions about privilege and depression—the way depression can affect anyone, and how even though Mickey lives a privileged life, his struggles are still valid. I don’t see as many books out there about male characters and mental health, so I was glad to see well-written and meaningful representation in this book. 

❀ Variety of Social Themes

One of this book’s highlights is the variety of social themes throughout it. Beyond just hockey, the story touches on topics such as mental health and queerphobia, especially in the world of sports, in a way that feels natural. I found the discussions of privilege particularly strong, and I enjoyed getting glimpses into two different characters’ experiences with the draft. Mickey has a full scholarship and increased media attention because of his family legacy, and he only plans on staying at university for one year, until he gets drafted into the NHL. Meanwhile, as a Black athlete, Jaysen does not have the same opportunities as Mickey, and he must work harder to gain visibility. These discussions, prompting readers to think about the social dynamics in sports, bring more depth to the story. 

❀ Moving Story

Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei is a moving story about following your dreams, and about changing your path when necessary. I enjoyed the concept of hockey rivals, and the main character and his struggles with depression are well-written. The book also touches on many social themes including queerphobia and privilege, making this a love story with an important message.

About A.L. Graziadei

A.L. Graziadei

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.

11 thoughts on “Review: Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

  1. Angela says:

    I like that the story explores how you can be privileged and still have mental health issues. Having money or success doesn’t preclude you from experiencing depression.

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