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Title: Home or Away
Author: Kathleen West
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Page Count: 363
My rating: 3 1/2 stars
About the book:
Two friends, one Olympic dream, and the choice that stood in the way.
Once Leigh and Susy were close friends and teammates bound for Olympic hockey gold, but when Leigh’s sure-fire plan to make the final roster backfired, she left everything behind to start over, including the one person who knew her secret.
Two decades later, Leigh’s a successful investment banker, happily married, and the mom of a hockey prodigy, so when a career opportunity lands the family back in Minnesota, Leigh takes the shot for her kid. Back in the ultra-competitive world she left behind, the move puts her in Susy’s orbit, a daily reminder of how Leigh watched from the sidelines as her former teammate went on to Olympic glory.
Despite the coldness between them, Susy can’t help but hope that Leigh might lace up her skates and join her in the coaches’ box—after all Leigh knows better than anyone how hard it is to be a woman in this world. Susy knows soon her daughter, Georgie, will be seen as a “girl athlete,” relegated to the B team, with less support and opportunity to advance.
But Leigh believes keeping Susy at arms’ length is the only way to hide her history with her former coach Jeff Carlson. When he hints of new favors in exchange for her son’s ice time, Leigh is caught in the ultimate bind: come clean about what happened when she was an Olympic hopeful and risk her marriage or play Jeff’s game. In a moment of desperation, Leigh realizes the one person she thought was her biggest competitor—her former teammate—might turn out to be her biggest ally.
Told with Kathleen West’s trademark wit and compassion, Home or Away is a story about overcoming our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of female friendship.
Home or Away by Kathleen West is a fictional contemporary novel with a touch of drama woven into the story. The story in Home or Away is one that takes place in two timelines with a present time and going back to twenty years before and also by changing the point of view between the characters.
Leigh had once had Olympic dreams playing hockey but her dream vanished twenty years ago. Instead of competing on the Olympic team Leigh had married her boyfriend and has gone on to have twenty years of marriage together and a son they both love.
Leigh had told herself that she would not ever let her son get to know hockey or play the sport but that vow had gone out the window when a family member gave him toddler skates. Now Leigh and her husband have packed up their Florida home and moved back to Minnesota to give their son his best shot at competitive hockey but Leigh must face her past now that she’s home.
The first thing I noticed when picking up Home or Away by Kathleen West is that it was very hockey heavy which I’m not sure if readers of a contemporary family story would love. In a way this one reminded me of Mighty Ducks with the young boy trying to make the hockey team but underneath that side of the story was the main characters Leigh confronting demons from her past which did get engaging to see how it would all turn out. To me it all wrapped up rather quickly after spending so much time in the ice rink which left me rating this one at three and a half stars.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Kathleen West is a veteran middle and high-school teacher. She graduated with a degree in English from Macalester College and holds a Master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her family. Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes is her first novel.