Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei
Narrated by Tom Picasso
Reviewed by David T. Valentin
Never would I have ever believed I would find some of the best representation of depression in a queer romance hockey book, but here we are.
Icebreaker follows the story of Mickey James III, the third Mickey James to take up the mantle of hockey legend gunning for first pick from the NHL like his grandfather and father. So, he makes the team with the one player who’s gunning for the same spot, Jaysen Caulfield. The two get into plenty of arguments and a few physical altercations. When the two are invited to play a game where for every insult you have to give your partner a compliment, Mickey and Jaysen find themselves eyeing each other down and eventually flirting with each other on and off the ice. As their rivalry evolves into attraction, Mickey must keep his eye on first draft pick even if it cost his own happiness and what he truly wants.
First off, the representation of Mickey’s depression was so spot on and accurate, I couldn’t help but tear up and cry at certain points. The decision making between knowing who you are when you’re happy and feeling like you don’t deserve it and that you might actually be an asshole is not something media focuses on when it comes to mental illness. The back and forth of whether to really open yourself up and become vulnerable with the people you love or shutting down because you’re afraid of disappointing those same people is an important part of Mickey’s journey in this story. But as he comes to figure out his sexuality, he revaluates his life and the things that truly matter. In the end, the conflict is not really down to gunning for the first draft pick for the NHL and his love for Jaysen, but more so living a life according to what’s expected of him or choosing what truly makes him happy. That includes reevaluating his love for hockey and eventually finding a newfound love for the sport.
Even more so, Jaysen’s understanding of Mickey’s depression when he finally comes around to opening up to Jaysen is downright criminal with how sweet Jaysen is. The gentle balance between rivalry, cute moments and sexually tense scenes makes you craving more of the couple as the book progresses. Even Jaysen’s understanding of Mickey’s mental health gives queer couples, and other couples, something to aspire to have in their own relationships.
If you’re looking for a book packed with tense romantic scenes, found family vibes, and wholesome family bonds, then this book is the perfect fit for you.