Parents who don't parent, a little sister who thinks she's all grown up, and the spectre of every bad relationship decision she's ever made… Jessie Mac has a lot on her plate as she captains her team through her toughest hockey season ever.

In her last year of high school, Jessie is finally playing AAA, the highest level of minor hockey there is. She's been made captain, and she's putting relationship disasters behind her by dating wonderful, sensible Evan. So what if he's safely away at university where she can ignore his calls and texts? And so what if her old-news feelings about old flame Mark, and uncomfortable new feelings towards new guy Liam, refuse to be ignored? At last, Jessie really has things worked out.

Even when guys and booze make an appearance at a team sleepover, Jessie does the right thing and leaves with the rookies...or tries to. A clumsy fall down stairs, though, leads the coaches to assume she's to blame for providing the alcohol. Suddenly Jessie is fighting rumours that she was falling-down drunk at a hockey party. And some teammates, noses out of joint because of Jessie's captaincy, are only too happy to keep those rumours alive.

Meanwhile, Jessie's eleven-year-old sister Courtney falls in with sophisticated older friends. Jessie sees where things are headed, but she can't seem to make their parents understand the problem.

New Year approaches, bringing an important tournament, increasingly outlandish behaviour from Courtney, and what looks like a head-on relationship collision from three directions. It's time for Jessie to grow up, step up, and fix things once and for all.

Maureen Ulrich was born in Saskatoon in 1958, but grew up in Edmonton and Calgary. She obtained Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, and has taught middle-years students for 23 years, as well as working in the oil-field industry.

John Reed Books
Author: Maureen Ulrich
ISBN: 9781550505122
Price: $15.95

Interview with Maureen Ulrich

Question: What inspired the story of Breakaway?

Maureen Ulrich: The Jessie Mac series explores teen issues as well as girls' hockey. Power Plays explores bullying. Face Off deals with binge drinking. In Breakaway, Jessie learns more about dating and relationships.

I needed to find a way to bring closure to the Jessie/Mark subplot. Jessie gets Mark, Jessie loses Mark . . . Now what?

One place I drew inspiration was from a story a friend told me. She had dated a boy in high school and was surprised to learn how serious he was. She was all prepared to head off to university after graduation while he was ready to settle down and get married. It got me to thinking about how easy it is to hurt someone, even when you have the very best of intentions.

Question: What research did you do regarding hockey, prior to writing Breakaway?

Maureen Ulrich: I am pretty familiar with the game, as my oldest daughter played university hockey for five years. However, Breakaway explores Female AAA hockey, which my daughter never played. I talked to a friend, who was on the board for a AAA team in Regina, and she gave me quite a bit of information about the process of applying for a team and some of the "politics" involved in luring talented players from other teams. I also spoke with a girl ( a former student of mine) who was playing AAA and had been on several teams. She filled me in on tryouts and tournaments. I used the AAA website to obtain the league schedule and rules.Team websites were also useful to me in drawing up Jessie's practice schedule. This is the first time I ever made a calendar of events for a novel, and I found it a very useful reference.

Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Jessie Mac?

Maureen Ulrich: Jessie Mac has integrity, and that is a virtue often overlooked in teen fiction. Jessie may not always make the right choices, but she learns from her mistakes. For me, the consequences of a bad decision are more interesting than the decision itself.

Question: What audience did you write Breakaway for?

Maureen Ulrich: This novel is written for a little older teen audience. Ages 14 – 17. However, adults enjoy reading these books just as much as teenagers do.

Question: Are you currently working on another book?

Maureen Ulrich: I am working on a young adult fantasy which is quite a bit darker than the Jessie Mac series. Most of my central characters are fueled by either vengeance or ambition, which makes for some interesting twists and turns in the plot. I hope young readers will enjoy Gabrielle, my new protagonist, as much as they have enjoyed Jessie!


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