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Understanding Ken [Paperback]

Pete McCormack
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 1998

It is the story of a hockey-mad ten-year-old incapable of dealing with the recent, bitter separation of his parents. The target of his frustration becomes none other than hockey legend Ken Dryden -- greatest goaltender in the history of the world -- who, after three brilliant seasons, has suddenly and inexplicably abandoned the boy's favourite team. The novel is set in the interior of British Columbia, where our young hero escapes into a fantasy world of family reconciliation, Stanley Cup statistics and the building of a backyard rink which, night after night, stubbornly refuses to freeze. When he is living with his mother, moments of peace are squashed by the anti-hockey atmosphere and the menacing presence of her boyfriend. When the boy is with his father -- a yelling, hockey-obsessed doctor -- chaos reigns in the form of snowdrifts and sawdust, the result of an ill-timed mid-winter renovation of the front room. But at least the two share that one binding and all-consuming Canadian dream -- for the boy to play professional hockey in the NHL. The season progresses with a tumultuous mixture of exhilarating on-ice triumphs, humiliations at his father's public tirades, and desperate hopes that all will lead to the one great event that could make everything right.


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About the Author

Pete McCormack, a musician, fledgling scriptwriter and playwright, has a remarkable achievement in this first novel, which has been published in the United States and optioned for a film in Hollywood. An admirer of the CBC, a lover of public libraries, and chronically anxious about both, McCormack reminds us that no generation is homogeneous or speaks with only one voice.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
James Herriot, John Irving, and Pete McCormack. These are the few authors whose works I have insisted on reading aloud to my newspapers-only husband. It was difficult to control the laughter while reading aloud, and impossible to read other passages without choking back tears. The story is related by a ten/eleven year-old boy whose passion is hockey, though he knows he's only the second-best player, and whose world is getting out of control both on and off the ice. His parents are separating and his father is behaving strangely. The boy feels that the responsibility of keeping the family together, and winning hockey for the team falls squarely on his shoulders. In a show of support for his Dad, he decides to live with him. He then tries to adjust to a new home where Dad keeps knocking walls out, a new school and friends, and an unsympathetic teacher. This novel covers current issues of how divorce affects children; how sports can bring out the 'ugly' in adults; and how children cope with loss. It sounds heavy, but it is related with a child's simplicity, optimism, and humour. It is an 'easy' read that would appeal to a wide audience.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars understanding separation, divorce, sports, & finally ken Dec 7 2000
By Willi Friml - Published on Amazon.com
James Herriot, John Irving, and Pete McCormack. These are the few authors whose works I have insisted on reading aloud to my newspapers-only husband. It was difficult to control the laughter while reading aloud, and impossible to read other passages without choking back tears. The story is related by a ten/eleven year-old boy whose passion is hockey, though he knows he's only the second-best player, and whose world is getting out of control both on and off the ice. His parents are separating and his father is behaving strangely. The boy feels that the responsibility of keeping the family together, and winning hockey for the team falls squarely on his shoulders. In a show of support for his Dad, he decides to live with him. He then tries to adjust to a new home where Dad keeps knocking walls out, a new school and friends, and an unsympathetic teacher. This novel covers current issues of how divorce affects children; how sports can bring out the 'ugly' in adults; and how children cope with loss. It sounds heavy, but it is related with a child's simplicity, optimism, and humour. It is an 'easy' read that would appeal to a wide audience.
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Catcher in the Rye... July 6 2011
By M. McConnell - Published on Amazon.com
...Then I think you will enjoy this. Somehow McCormack is able to remember and put into words the thoughts of a 10 year old and use the same "stream of consciousness" voice that I recall from "Catcher". While reading this, I spent half the time laughing, half the time crying, and all the time able to be immersed in this book...
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