Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Forward Pass by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

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Forward Pass by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

Known for her hockey books such as Holding and Puckster's First Hockey Game, Lorna Schultz Nicholson writes for all ages and in a bunch of genres, however what she is known best for is her hockey books. Now she is expanding her sports writing with the young adult series, Podium Sports Academy, published by Lorimer. Forward Pass is not about a hockey player, but instead about a soccer goalie named Parmita.

Parmita has a few challenges. First, she is billeting with an ultra-Christian family while she attends the Podium Sports Academy in Calgary. Luckily she gets along with them even if she doesn't always agree with how they think about things. Another challenge, and one her mom back at home frets about, is Parmita isn't into guys. She doesn't want to date them and isn't really that comfortable hanging around them. She does have a crush though. It just happens to be a secret since it’s on her best friend, a fellow female athlete. Parmita is definitely not ready to come out of the closet yet. But that’s not even Parmita's biggest problem. The real hurdle she has to deal with is that her goalie coach is hitting on her, big time, and threatening her place on the National Team if she doesn't co-operate with the advances. And to complicate things further, the coach is a not a guy.

Forward Pass is a great book. The writing is fast paced. There are some excellent soccer scenes. But what I really liked was how the whole issue of sexual identity, along with the fear and self-doubt that goes with it, was handled. The goalie coach has Parmita trapped between her desire to escape the abuse and her desire to achieve her dream. If she fights back, she will not only have no chance of making the national team but will be forced to admit her sexuality to her friends, teammates, and parents too. It sucks and it looks like there is no way out.

I would definitely recommend Forward Pass to any sports oriented teen — gay, bi, or straight, male or female. It’s a good story and it deals with issues that all players should be sensitized to. People in positions of power can take advantage. Reading about it, knowing about it, it’s like armor. Also I’m pretty happy about seeing a strong lesbian character in teen literature, especially in a sports setting. Forward Pass helps dispel the myth that everyone on sports teams are straight just because its sports. And if this book happens to reach one of those closeted kids still hiding out they will, at the very least, know they are not alone.

Coming tomorrow: An interview with the author of Forward Pass – Lorna Schultz Nicholson.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Kim Firmston

Kim Firmston is a writer and creative writing instructor in Calgary. Her teen novels Schizo and Hook Up were Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Bet Selections. Her short story "Life Before War" was shortlisted for the 2008 CBC Literary Awards. Her most recent novel for teens is Touch, about a teenage hacker with a troubled family life.

Go to Kim Firmston’s Author Page