Ice Hockey, memoir, high school, injuries, Bruins
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Anyone who has played or watched ice hockey knows it can be a brutal game. Because of its violence and its speed, something awful can happen in an instant. For sophomore player Matt Brown of Norwood High School in Massachusetts, that happened during a game in 2010. As the puck came off the boards and into his skates, he was hit from behind with a clean, legal check. Brown fell, hitting his head on the boards and immediately could not move any of his limbs. The crowd went silent, a nurse rushed to the ice from the stands as medical personnel later took him off the ice in a stretcher. The play turned out to be the last of his hockey career as he became permanently paralyzed.
However, that didn’t stop Matt from not only recovering and earning his diploma and a college degree, but he also became an inspiration to many hockey players and teams, including the Boston Bruins. Brown writes about all of his experiences with his recovery and the love shown him by many in this inspiring memoir.
Hearing that the hockey community embraced Matt isn’t a surprise to anyone who follows the sport as hockey players are known for their generosity and support for those less fortunate. In Matt’s case, the Bruins not only let him drop the puck at an opening faceoff, he also was shown the Stanley Cup after the Bruins won it in 2011 and also was given an army ranger jacket that the 2013 used to honor players on their run to the Stanley Cup finals that year. It is clear from the writing that Brown was humbled and overjoyed to be a part of the Bruins’ teams those years.
More than the hockey, however, the reader will be inspired by Matt’s unwavering optimism in both his physical recovery and the way he handled life situations such as adjusting to college life and breaking up with his first girlfriend – things that many teenagers typically face. That makes some parts of the book special – you realize Brown is a young man just trying to live his life like any other young man.
Also inspiring is his participation in the Boston Marathon. He has done so six time, the first time in 2012 with runner Lucas Carr pushing Matt in his wheelchair to the finish line. While Matt acknowledges that Lucas has the more physically demanding portion of their team, it should be noted that he had to endure a lot physically himself as the wind and bumpy ride in the wheelchair would leave him just as exhausted as Carr when they would cross the finish line. It should be noted that they were going to participate again in 2013, the year of the Boston Marathon bombing, but Matt was suffering with chest colds and his physician recommended that he not participate so Matt obeyed his physician. I shuddered when I read that to think what would have become of him, especially when he noted that Carr ran himself and crossed the finish line about a minute before the first bomb exploded.
Avid hockey readers will not be able to compare this book to another story of a hockey player suffering a similar fate, Travis Roy’s “Eleven Seconds.” Both stories need to be told, but just as they are two different people, these are very different stories. Matt’s is one that anyone will enjoy reading whether or not or one is a hockey fan.
I wish to thank Mascot Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.