These might be some very controversial statements/questions: Why can’t a white, male author write about a female? Why can’t a white author write about a black character? Why can’t a straight author write about a gay person? Why can’t a first-generation Nigeran, Texan, female author write about a gay, white, 18-year-old southern kid?
Wait. She did.
Ngozi Ukazu, a self-proclaimed person who knew nothing about hockey, went about writing a screenplay about a boy and hockey. She turned that eventually into Check, Please! Book 1: Hockey! The introduction to Check, Please! is almost more fun than the actual graphic novel. The author/illustrators journey to getting here is very interesting. And, for me, her being black, Texan and female took nothing away from Bitty and the gang. Is it over the top? Yes. But that was deliberate. Is it funny? Yes. Also deliberate. Was I able to learn anything about hockey? Not really, but there is obviously enough research involved that a person who knows about hockey will not say, “Hey! You got that wrong!”
The story is simple: a coming of age for a very out, awkward, young man from a small Georgian town. He’s now in a college known for its GLBT-friendly policies. They are known for the moody, handsome captain of the hockey team. Bitty is not unware of any of this as he does his regular Vlog about life, school, hockey, and baking pies. Maybe a person struggling with “being different” can get something from this. Maybe not. I went at it thinking, “A graphic novel about hockey with a gay character.” Nice. This should be a good story.
And in the end, that is what it is. A good story. The only real complaint I have is ends after the big reveal. I am not a big fan of cliff-hanger endings or continuation stories (miss one you miss everything) in books, movies or TV shows. The other part that might bothersome to some is the language. Perhaps the swearing is more than is needed, or even what someone might say, but it is what her characters say. Also, she does not shy away from the “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll” mentality of college. The boys drink, want sex and have fun.
In the end, I am not sure who would want to read this book, but I know probably all of us should read it.