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Michigan vs. the Boys

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When a determined girl is confronted with the culture of toxic masculinity, it's time to even the score.

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls' hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there's still one team left in town ...

The boys' team isn't exactly welcoming, but Michigan's prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and "harmless" pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up - even if it means putting her future on the line.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2019

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About the author

Carrie S. Allen

2 books117 followers
Carrie Allen is a Colorado girl who wears flip-flops year-round and never skips dessert. She is retired from sports medicine, and extra-tired from chasing around two kids and two dogs. She writes contemporary YA about girls who kick butt in sports.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 439 reviews
Profile Image for Lilith Black Bee.
177 reviews356 followers
June 5, 2020
BLOG *** TWITTER *** WHISHLIST *** Get 2 months of free books HERE

E-ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and are not affected in any way.

• Amazing siblings relationship. I mean, who doesn't like to know that they have the support, in any matter, of their sibling?! I absolutely love it when I read about siblings with this kind of relationship, where you really feel the connection between them.
• Brakes your heart. If you too want a hard-hitting book about teenagers, and mostly about how a girl has to fight and what she is going through in order to persuade her passion, you can easily put this one on your reading list. There were so many moments when I just stopped reading for a few minutes because I just needed to breathe and to let my emotions sink in... My heart ached and cried for Michigan and for all people out there, no matter their gender, that they have to go through all of these things.
• Strong and dedicated heroine. Michigan is one of my most favorite female characters from all the 300+ books that I have read. She is a strong role model, she is passionate, she fights for what she loves, she is an amazing human being. Because let me tell you, not for one second did I felt like I was reading about a character in a book, this is how real Michigan felt. I can easily tell you, with all my honesty, that I want someone like her in my life.
• Easy and fast to read.

• No cons, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Profile Image for Hilly.
692 reviews1,239 followers
May 29, 2020
Those fucking bastards. I want blood. I want it dripping off my skates. I want them to hurt. So make them hurt. Take their fucking manhood and chop it right off. That’s what they care about, right? Their soapy manhoods, shaking in the hallway at me. I will make them look like squirts. I will take their starting positions, their spots on the power play. They want to scare me off this team? Never. I will die first.

I knew this book was going to make me angry but I didn’t think I was going to cry. No one warned me I would need tissues. Actually, on second thought, no one could have because no one is really reading this book, so here I am telling you to FREAKING PICK IT UP. Because it’s FREAKING AMAZING.

This book reminded me of why I love hard-hitting ya contemporaries. And made me interested in hockey, which is a very weird thing since I’ve never watched it and I know very little about it. I guess I like sports books now? That’s new.

I didn’t think I would be this obsessed with this book when I started it, but the first three or four pages already made me want to know more about Michigan. She’s such an amazing main character and I was rooting for her since the very beginning. I love how strong she is, how good she is, how she values hockey, her brother and good friendships over anything else. Hell, she constantly thinks about how her actions would reflect on people, especially girls, who are going to come after her. And she never backs down. I just love her so so much, okay???

“Don’t worry, Manning,” he says, smirking. “I’ll go easy on you.” Perfect. My first target.

I couldn’t put this book down, and it wasn’t only because of Michigan. It was because of the superb and quick writing style, and because of the great pacing. I cared a lot about all the characters, and things kept happening, so I could never catch a break. I was glued to the pages, trying to brace for when the story was going to take that awful turn dark contemporaries often take. I wanted Michigan to succeed and play better hockey than the guys (who, btw, need to burn, all of them + Coach).

“Avery, move back,” Coach says. “I want an empty row between Manning and you boys.” From the back, someone whispers loudly, “Watch out, Avery. Vagina is catching.”

I am so in love with Jack, I swear. It took nothing, just one dialogue and I was down. Sweet love interests are always going to be my weakness. The dialogue he had with Michigan was one of the best things of this book, I was smiling and laughing every time they talked. The fact that Michigan gets part of her strength from him, because he is so supportive and understands her love for hockey, made me instantly melt.

“Just in case the hockey girl needs backup from a swimmer,” he says. “We’re tougher than we look.”

On your way to Houghton?
Yep. In my special front seat of the bus. At least it doesn’t smell like boy up here.
Should I take offense at that?
God, no, you’re the cleanest boy I know. You always smell like pool.
Should I take offense at THAT???

What made me cry was the way the female friendship was handled. I’m just so in love with what Michigan’s friends did for her. There was this phone call that literally killed me in the best possible way (if you read this book, you know which one I mean). I wasn’t a big fan of Brie, however. She annoyed me to no end and it’s not like the ending of the book redeemed her for me.
Another relationship I loved was the one between Michigan and her brother. They’re so supportive of each other and care so much about each other. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen such a cute sister-brother relationship and now I want more.

I only ducked 0.5 points stars because I found that the ending wrapped up a bit too nicely. Something more realistic would have packed a better punch, in my opinion. Not that I’m really complaining, though. At least it gave me a little bit of joy.
Another thing was that I was very confused at the hockey talk. I would have liked a bit of an explanation for the different terms, being this the first time I’ve stumbled upon this sport.

The rest was just amazing. I’ll bring this book with me for years to come, I know it already. My obsession with it didn’t die a single bit while I was reading, and it won’t die for a long long time. Can’t wait to read more from this author, because if this is her debut... wow. I’m so going to hurt next time too.

I received an advanced reader copy through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Me two days after finishing this book: hello book hungover
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,198 reviews26k followers
April 10, 2020
This book is difficult to rate... I feel like the message this book is trying to send is worthy of five stars.. but the actual story itself was just okay for me. This is a story about a girl named Michigan who plays hockey for her high school, then the girls hockey team gets cut so she goes and tries out for the boys team. The boys are abusive towards her physically and verbally, because they don’t want a girl on their team, and she has to deal with their sexist bull shit day in and day out.

This book was frustrating to read because I felt so bad for her and I felt so much rage at these stupid teenage boys. I know that is what’s intended but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to read about. I also feel like all the characters in this story just feel very basic and bland, I never felt like I connected with any of them. And Michigan’s love interest Jack was just too perfect and their romance just felt so insta-love and I didn’t feel their chemistry at all. It was all a little too cliche for me to root for them.

But I do like what this book has to say and I think it’s something important for young adults to read, and for girls to understand that their voice matters and their stories make a difference when they speak up about being abused.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
805 reviews3,775 followers
December 2, 2019

if you loved Beartown, then PICK THIS UP. it's basically the YA version of it and it's guaranteed to break your heart :')


my thoughts
- so this book is about a girl, michigan, whos passion for hockey triumphs everything else in her life. when she finds out that her school has to cut the girl's hockey team because of funding issues, she makes the difficult choice of joining the boy's hockey team
- and as expected, things are not easy for her. these boys dont like the idea of a girl playing on their team and stealing their positions and the attention
- this book delves into some really serious issues like small and big accounts of misogyny & how what is seen as harmless teasing can go so much farther and turn into things like hazing & bullying
- i was really struck by this book because as you read about how michigan is treated by her teammates, you can also feel her reluctance to tell anyone about what's going on bc either she'll get the 'you should know what you signed up for when you joined an all-boys team' speech or she'll be told to leave the team
- the lengths the boys went to in order to get michigan to drop the team was so gross and ugly and cruel :(

- but this book is also more than hockey. right from the start, we're introduced to jack, michigan's love interest and a competitive swimmer. oH MY GOD YOU GUYS, THIS BOY IS A GEM
- when the whole world is against her, he's so supportive and says exactly the right thing to make her feel better. 🥺🥺🥺
- the only boy in this book who deserves rights
- michigan also has a close knit group of friends who played hockey with her before and my gosh, their friendship is so sweet and true
- it hurt my heart when michigan finally gets the courage to tell her friends about what's happening, and they don't doubt her for a second. they're instantly by her side, standing as a team and feeling as much pain for michigan as they would for themselves. and it was SO BLOODY BEAUTIFUL TO SEE
- and now we move onto trent, michigan's little brother.
- their relationship is so precious. they bicker and fight, but support each other 110%. freaking cuties
- trents a soft little baby
"this is the separate-the-men-from-the-boys part.
lucky for me, i’m all girl."

- the way this story was put together used so much care to show how damaging people can be towards each other in these types of highly competitive and stressful situations.
- i loved how the book didn't feel like it was trying to teach me a lesson, it told me a story, from the perspective of a teenage girl with very easy writing to follow and unraveled the events of her life
- it's something i could see happen to so many girls (and guys) and it hurts me something deep
- the resolution was the best thing i could think of. i loved the finality of it without making everything super perfect.

i just love this book so much
May 15, 2020

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Despite the cutesy title, MICHIGAN VS. THE BOYS is no fluffy, feel good story about girl power and sports like She's All That and Bend It Like Beckham. This is a very dark story about sexism and hazing and ummm, can we talk about why NOBODY is reading this gem? I am honestly shaken by how good this was, and how deeply it made me feel all the things.

**Spoilers because content warnings.**

Michigan is an excellent hockey player on her school's team. But due to budget cuts, the school has decided to axe two sports team: girls' hockey and boys' swimming. Several of Michigan's ex-teammates are able to find other options, either at far away rinks, in another sport, or at a private academy, but none of those are options for Michigan, who ends up thinking of another option when a girl joins her younger brother's junior hockey team:

She'll try out for the boys'.

Her skill and speed have her place, despite the coach's misgivings, and after giving her-- and the boys-- an incredibly sexist and humiliating set of rules regarding her placement, she's allowed to join. Some of the boys seem okay with her being there, especially this one named Avery and some of the younger players, but three of the tenured players have it out for her and do all kinds of things to force her to quit. It starts with mean comments and excluding her from team bonding activities, but slowly graduates to beatings, destruction of private property, sexual harassment, and then, even assault.

My heart went out to Michigan-- and, honestly, to any other girl out there who's tried to do something that she loves only to find roadblocks being thrown up at every turn. The way the coach treated her was disgusting and enabling, and I DESPISED the male hockey players. What keeps this from being a totally miserable read is the display of girl power I was hoping for: the unconditional support of her friends, a very kick-butt lady police officer, and a principal who does his darn job.

MICHIGAN VS. THE BOYS is not an easy read but it is an important one. And it's hard not to read this book and love Michigan because of her authentic-sounding teen voice and her passion for hockey. I don't even like sports but through her eyes, I was able to see why she loved it as much as she did, to the extent that she was willing to endure so much abuse to include it in her life. People shouldn't have to choose between what they love and their personal safety, but for some that is a privilege that they are unfairly, unreasonably denied.

I would encourage anyone who loves deep, gritty YA grounded in real world issues and strong female characters to pick up this book.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

4 to 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Sara.
1,056 reviews352 followers
January 13, 2020
ARC received in exchange for an honest review 🏒

Clearly YA contemporary sports novels are my thing.

Michigan has just been appointed assistant captain of her girl’s hockey team when the team is cruelly cut due to funds at her high school. The only solution if she still wants to play is to try out for the boy’s team. But a girl has never played with the boys, and these boys don’t want Michigan on their team - especially captain Daniel. And Daniel always gets what he wants, by whatever means possible.

I really, really enjoyed this. Michigan is faced with so much prejudice and misogyny, despite being the best player on the team, from her teammates and coach. Right from the start she’s described as ‘the girl’ and is subjected to some really hard hitting (quite literally) bullying from her supposed team mates. Her determination to play despite this resulted in a character I grew to love and empathise deeply for. She’s got an inner strength to go for what she wants despite the obstacles, determined to be a role model for the younger girl’s she sees. However, the struggle to take all of this bullying without speaking out, while trying to maintain this demeanour of a powerful female is hard. We see Michigan start to fade away, starting from someone who can give as good as she gets to getting jumpy and anxious and loosing a bit of herself as the bullying steps up. I felt such anger at her treatment and the behaviour of the boys, and was fully invested in hopefully seeing their comeuppance.

I also really liked Michigan’s relationship with her former female team members who have remained at the school. There’s a strong bond between them, and a kindness that is never seen with her new team mates. As the bully descends into violence and hatred on an extreme level, Michigan begins to see these women as an anchor, a light, and it gives her the strength to carry on. The same can be said for the romantic romance, which I found fitted in well with the story without overpowering it. This is firmly a story about Michigan, and the secondary characters are there to support and cherish her or revile her.

I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed the actual hockey elements to this. They added to the fast pace of the story, injecting some excitement, and were really well written. It helped to propel this above a typical YA novel that tends to put romance at the forefront, instead focusing on friendship and individual strength of character.

This wasn’t a five star for me for a couple of reasons. One is Michigan’s sometimes complicated relationship with best friend Brie. She’s often derogatory towards her, calling her out in front of other teammates, which lessened the message of female friendship. I also personally found Brie really irritating and unnecessary as a character. Mich finds more love in her other former teammates than Brie, who is extremely self centred. I also found a couple of Michigan’s decisions a bit suspect. There’s an incident about 60% of the way through the book that I thought was a little out of character and sensible, highly anxious Michigan wouldn’t have done it - regardless of her need for these boys to accept her.

That said, this was great. YA without a heavy romantic focus that’s emotive and fast paced with a heavy sport element is my jam. Highly recommend.

Trigger warnings for:
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,371 reviews1,833 followers
November 29, 2019
I would like it noted for the record that this is my do-over review after accidentally losing the first (much superior) draft. I am sad. But here we go; take two.

Wow, so. I knew going into this read that it would deal with some tough situations concerning bullying and hazing, but still. This was hard.

MICHIGAN VS THE BOYS feels like the second cousin to BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman. Like that other story, this one also focuses on the mob mentality so often found in men, particularly in competitive sports. But that's mostly where the similarities end.

Michigan loves hockey. So when her girls' team is disbanded due to budget cuts, she makes the bold choice to try out for the boys' team. Except no one wants her there. Not her coach and certainly not her teammates. But she wants to play, she is talented, and so she makes the cut.

Reading what the boys put her through, how she is ignored by the staff, and only trotted out when she out-plays, and out-scores, the boys, is so hard. Watching every hard-earned win, every success, be immediately torn down by those who are supposed to lift her up, cheer her on? Brutal. But watching her continue to push herself, to continue to succeed despite so much adversity, is remarkable. Though, ultimately, tragic because it's so unnecessary and awful.

But for all that awful, there's a balance of greatness, too. It's also a story about friendship, first love, loyalty, and family. And, in some ways, so much of this is necessary. Because, as one character says, about a certain situation, which I will paraphrase, this story, the telling of it, is so important. For the girls who will see themselves in these moments; if not now, maybe in the future. For the boys who might realize that what they witness being done to others, what they don't stop even if they don't participate in, is wrong.

If you love hockey, if you love stories with great friendships or sibling relationships, hell, if you loved (or hated!) BEARTOWN, I would definitely recommend.


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for chloe yeung ♡.
392 reviews262 followers
September 28, 2019
i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.

i have never joined any sports teams inside and outside of school, or played sports competitively, and i’m embarrassed to admit that yes, i know basically nothing about sports. in michigan vs. the boys, i was introduced to the world of swim and hockey meets, team spirit (or lack thereof) and high school showcases. but the book is so much more than that.

i went into this book expecting some bella and the bulldogs-esque plot, in which the guys admire the girl who outplays them and treats her as one of their own. but sadly, michigan vs. the boys is a much sadder story. once she joins the boys’ team, michigan is often mistreated by her teammates, and even sexually assaulted at one point. her determination and courage is so, so admirable. it’s heartbreaking seeing her try so hard to conceal her wounds and pain just so she can secure a hockey scholarship for her to go to college.

this is the separate-the-men-from-the-boys part.
lucky for me, i’m all girl.

but it’s still good to know that while some people are trying to hurt and take michigan down, there are also many good people in her life who’d do anything to protect and support her.

i loved michigan’s relationship with her family. they’re really close – her brother, trenton, is on the bantam hockey team, and i loved seeing how much he cares about her feelings – my favorite scene was the one where he sees michigan feeling sad, then cheers her up by practising hockey moves with her in the bathroom. and michigan’s parents are also so supportive – the both of them, michigan’s mom especially, don’t really approve of her playing on the boys’ team, but they must have realized how much hockey means to her at some point, because they let her join in the end.

michigan’s friendship with her former girls’ team teammates is also so amazingly positive. although at the beginning it seems that they’re all leaving her to go join other teams, or even try a different sport, i loved how they’re actually there for michigan all along, and silently giving her support. two of her friends even act as “bodyguards” and watch her practices to make sure her boys’ team teammates don’t hurt her on purpose.

the romance is also so good – i loved that while many of the boys in this book are horrible jerks who treat michigan harshly, michigan’s boyfriend jack is an absolute sweetheart. he’s a swimmer whose team gets cut too, and i really liked how he always encourages michigan to pursue her passion, and there’s so much respect and love in their relationship.

i don’t want to reveal too much about the ending, but that last part where the boys made confessions gave me literal goosebumps. in this time and age, when the sports scene is still sadly male-dominated, it’s amazing seeing girls stand up for what they believe in and play hard with determination, and i truly admire michigan for doing so.

to conclude, michigan vs. the boys is not your typical sports novel. it explores difficult topics like sexism, toxic masculinity and hazing, and also features a kick-ass heroine who is strong and determined. i loved this book and will certainly be keeping an eye out for more of carrie s. allen’s novels in the future!

expected publication date: 1 october, 2019
trigger warnings: attempted rape and sexual assault, physical violence, hazing

this review first appeared on my blog, marshmallow pudding:

Profile Image for John Gilbert.
828 reviews83 followers
April 9, 2020
Although Michigan vs the Boys is quite predictable throughout, the protagonist, Michigan, is a wonderful survivor. Sometimes painful for me to read after spending most of my working life working with mysogisist boys like Adrian and his like, it is still great to see young women able to finally overcome their horrible behaviour. Some likeable side characters make for an enjoyable read, probably not worth the full five stars, but I liked it more than I probably should have.
Profile Image for dani.
570 reviews37 followers
October 13, 2019
ok i've got quite some complicated feelings about this; it was honestly a great book yet there were various parts where i was just ????????
mich was such a strong and badass character but so stubborn. she kept many things hidden, at the end all of them blowing up in her face and she fixed them because she ended up telling people; also, she was annoying at the beginning?? she talked of her "best friend" with a tone of envy and jealousy, i could not stand her at first. thankfully, she slowly progressed and left her annoying part aside.
what i had a hard time grasping was how badly they treated her. those three guys terrorized her and abused her since she was better than them; i could not believe what i was reading. nevertheless the ending *chef's kiss* they got what they deserved, i was happy!!
truly loved how powerful this book is, it shows how people never believe women. they ignore their hardships and abuses over and over again. this gave us a terrific ending however it's not always like that in real life. we continue to be ignored and disregarded; something that should've changed years ago.
it was hard to read at certain points, still, it highlights what we face day after day.
Profile Image for BookNightOwl.
972 reviews168 followers
July 14, 2020
I seen this on Netgalley and I passed because I'm not a hockey person. I am so glad I picked this up afterwards I loved it. This is way more than about hockey. Michigan Vs The Boys is about the main character Michigan who decides to go out for the boys team after her school cuts the girls hockey team. It's a story about the struggles and challenges she faces with being a girl on a all boys team.
Profile Image for Lindsay (pawsomereads).
613 reviews365 followers
August 25, 2019
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC!

This book was so much different than the typical YA, sports contemporaries that I read. This wasn’t a feel-good, romance-powered book. Instead, it covered real-life issues and centered around female empowerment. Michigan is a strong female character and there are many instances included in the novel where we see females supporting other females. I felt really connected to Michigan, and found myself rooting for her from the very beginning of the story. While this book isn’t a light-hearted read, it addresses real, societal problems that women are currently battling. Michigan vs. The Boys opens up the important discussion of sexism in our world today and I hope that anyone who has felt the way Michigan did can read this book and feel understood.

Profile Image for Nev.
1,025 reviews131 followers
October 16, 2019
What happens when the girls hockey team is cut and Michigan has to try out for the boys team instead? Even though she’s an amazing athlete, and one of the top scorers for the team, the guys aren’t happy she’s there. And they let her know it. What starts out as not too serious, Gatorade poured in her bag and so on, quickly escalates to more serious and scary threats and retaliation.

I think this is a really valuable book. It shows the harmful impacts of toxic masculinity, especially in a sports culture. It shows how bystanders not getting involved or not sticking up for what’s right can result in people getting hurt. It’s frustrating and frightening to watch everything that Michigan goes through, especially when the coach doesn’t intercede.

I do think this book had a couple of weak points. A lot of the more minor characters really blend together and aren’t distinguishable for the majority of the book. Most people outside of Michigan and her love interest are kind of underdeveloped. Also, while I agree with what this book was trying to say, at times I felt like it was delivered in a clunky way. It would feel like “now I am delivering The Important Message™” instead of having it more seamlessly integrated into the story.

Even though I have some small quibbles with aspects of the book, I definitely think it’s worth checking out if the plot interests you.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,879 reviews488 followers
February 5, 2021
When Michigan Manning and her fellow hockey teammates are given the devasting news that their girl's hockey team is being cut from the school budget, she wonders what comes next. Despite her parent's misgivings, especially her mother, Michigan decides to try out for the boy's hockey team. When she makes the team, not everyone is so happy, including the coach and soon Michigan becomes the #1 target.

Quickly, I liked the character of Michigan and was interested to see what would happen in the story. It felt very reminiscent of my own high school experience in the late '90s and sometimes I would feel myself getting really frustrated with the cavemen mentality of a few of these characters. Even Michigan's mother drove me nuts, at times! Overall, I think my students would really like this book. In fact, one of my Sec 2 hockey players is reading it right now and I look forward to his thoughts.

Goodreads review 05/02/21
Profile Image for Beth .
290 reviews216 followers
January 25, 2020
* I received an arc of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review *

First thing i need to say is that Michigan is a character that you are unable to not cheer for. From the very start to the very end, she knew what she wanted and she made damn sure she was going to get it. She truly is a badass and I am in awe of her strength, resilience, and feistiness.

This book is not an easy read. There were times I was so angry that I had to put the book down to calm down. But the reason it made me feel so intensely is because it was real. This book doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of sexism, discrimination, assault, or the hatred of women “invading” spaces that men occupy.

I loved the characters, the plot, the pacing, and the ending. This book is a masterpiece and as hard as it is to read, I’m sure I’ll end up coming back to this book and reading it again.

Profile Image for Katharine.
228 reviews
September 19, 2019
This book made me so angry in the best way and now I feel so empowered I could punch through a wall or like, bring down the patriarchy or something.

There is literally nothing I love more than a sports romance except a sports romance where the romance isn't with a teammate and its not even really a romance at all because its more of a critique on the 'boys will be boys' mentality and the wage gap in sports and the girls get to be fucking fierce without being stereotypes and its a lot of girls supporting girls and its just awesome
Profile Image for Jessica.
590 reviews30 followers
September 22, 2019
All my reviews can be found at: http://jessicasreadingroom.com
This review will post on my site on September 24, 2019.
Michigan vs The Boys is not a light – hearted read. It is a realistic portrayal of a teen girl joining a boys’ team and the consequences of that (positive, yet mainly negative). This is a novel about a girl and girl empowerment. You can’t help but root for Michigan to succeed despite the many setbacks that occur from her own ‘team mates’.

Michigan is a strong female character who goes through many emotions and experiences. I hated she kept silent throughout most of the abuse she endured. She is great at hockey and did everything to stay on the team, which included keeping quiet as long as she could. There is also a sweet romance that doesn’t take away from the story.

I did not like the coach. Yes, he put her on the team, but it was obviously not willingly. A coach should be someone you should be able to come to in times of trouble, but he was not that for Michigan. To me, he was just as bad as the boys were and most of the problem. He did not support Michigan. For example: making her change into her uniform in a broom closet!?!? Come on, there has to be a girl’s changing room somewhere in the school. After all, there are still girl’s teams in the school, just not a hockey team anymore. And extreme rules that only applied to her? It seemed that coach did everything he could to keep her out of the team.

You know an assault is coming while reading as it is mentioned in the book description, but for me an assault happened more than once. I was expecting something graphic, but it was not, yet still achieved what it meant to.

I would love to see another book with Michigan, to see what happens next in her life.
Allen worked in sports medicine and knows her sports lingo! I did not understand all of the vernacular, but she gets the point across.

I would recommend this for older teens (14+) due to the violence against Michigan along with some foul language and extensive mentions of teen drinking. This is an important book that should be read.

Many thanks to KCP Loft for my arc copy that I was sent.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,468 reviews259 followers
February 3, 2023
Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie S. Allen is a hard hitting YA contemporary sports novel that centers on high school hockey with a just a dash of romance. I'm not a sports person at all, but I was really invested in this story. Sure, I might not have known what all of those hockey terms meant, but I needed to know that Michigan would be okay, and better yet, succeed as a member of the high school boys varsity hockey team (after the girls team was cut). I was so angry at what Michigan was put through by her team and coach, like seeing red kind of angry. It's an uncomfortable read, but it's well worth the time. There are some real punch the air moments near the end that help make it worth it.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,283 reviews217 followers
May 28, 2019
***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of MICHIGAN VS THE BOYS by Carrie S Allen in exchange for my honest review.***

When the girl’s hockey team is disbanded Michigan decides to try out for the boys team where she experiences hazing, abuse and harassment. Afraid of being thrown off the team, she takes the beatings and mistreatment secret, not wanting to disappoint young girls who look up to her or hurt her chances at a college scholarship.

MICHIGAN VS THE BOYS is an uncomfortable book, and it should be. The hockey team is filled with entitled boys, abusers and silent bystanders. I cringed when the boys beat up Michigan, wondering how far toxic masculinity would take these boys. Most of the boys I grew up with knew hitting a girl was taboo, but Michigan’s teammates delude themselves under the guise of team unity and teaching rookies how to fit in. I hope boys wouldn’t be so brutal to a girl, but know they have been to other boys, which isn’t much better. High schools around here have made the news for rape being part of freshman hazing on boys’ teams.

I questioned why Michigan didn’t say something. Her story parallels those of teens battered by their boyfriends (or girlfriends). She minimized, thought she had to take the abuse and made excuses. The coach was allowed the hazing, even if he didn’t know all the details. He clearly didn’t want Michigan on his team.

MICHIGAN VS THE BOYS is an important book, one that can spark necessary discussions facilitated by adults. Carrie S Allen’s debut should be read by athletes, coaches and parents. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
524 reviews255 followers
December 25, 2019

Oof this book. Michigan vs. the Boys is one of those books that leaves you feeling heavy, angry, and upset all at the same time. It's a story about a girl just wanting to play hockey, and the torment she endures to do just that. While everything that is written is done so respectively and not in an over the top, shock value sort of manor, reading about everything Michigan goes through, from the dumb, petty things to the actual abuse, is hard to swallow. But as hard hitting as it all was, this was so, so good.

YA contemporary is pretty hit or miss with me, and I've found myself enjoying it less and less. But this was one of those gems that hit all the right spots for me, including the writing. I really enjoyed Michigan's dry, witty humor and manor of speaking. I really liked the writing style as a whole, especially the way the hockey was described. Not over done, but enough for someone that knows nothing about hockey to not be entirely lost.

I really enjoyed the various relationships Michigan had as well. I really liked the romance, especially as it wasn't with someone on her team and because it didn't cloud over her story. I also really enjoyed the family dynamic, especially with her brother. And her interactions with a young female hockey player, Megan, were some of my favorites and had me feeling so warm inside.

The only thing keeping this from being a five-star book is that at one point, I found myself so frustrated with everything that had happened to Michigan and really wanted her to speak up for herself sooner. I'm also on the fence with the reaction from her love interest once everything came out, but alas, high schoolers.

Overall, this was a look at the struggle of a woman playing in a male dominated sport that held nothing back. It was hard to sit with at times, but completely worth it. I loved the way this wrapped up, found the pacing as a whole to be excellent, and really recommend if you're looking for a sporty read that's a little more hard hitting.
Profile Image for Madison.
1,065 reviews58 followers
September 15, 2019
Michigan vs. The Boys is a book that is as equally heartbreaking as it is uplifting. It is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds, facing abuse, weighing the costs of speaking up against the burden of silence, the power of a true team and the love of a sport.

Michigan loves ice hockey. She loves her team and time spent on the ice, both training and playing. But she doesn’t realise how much she loves the sport until the girl’s ice hockey team is cut. While her best friend leaves to play at a boarding school and other members of the team scatter between the swim team and the local team, Michigan decides to try out for the boy’s team. But the boys are far from welcoming and soon Michigan must decide if her love of the sport is worth the abuse she faces.

I love sports fiction. I may be physical-activity challenged and the person anyone in their right mind would pick last for a sports team, but I really enjoy a good YA novel about sport, teams and the dedicated individuals who train and compete so hard. I was literally in a cold sweat the whole time I was reading this book. I was so worried about what was going to happen next, as jumpy as Michigan who is peaking over her shoulder the whole time.

I so admire Michigan. She loves her sport, loves the dedication it requires and the hard work to which she must commit. And the more abuse she cops, the harder it is for her, the harder she works, the better she becomes and the more awesome she is. The abuse and insidious misogyny in this book is absolutely disgusting. And what is equally bad is the the way some of the adults overlook and condone it. But for every aspect of the very worst side of teams, for every low-down piece of garbage (sorry, meant to write dumb teenage guy) and idiot, blind adult, is a solid demonstration of friendship and the true meaning of team, supportive and encouraging individuals (including guys) and adults who stand up and do the right thing.

At the heart of this story is Michigan. Some readers may criticise Michigan for the abuse she takes and stays silent about, and the decisions she makes about speaking up. Instead, I believe this story highlights the very real costs of speaking up and the dilemma survivors of abuse must face. It will no doubt spark debate amongst readers. Throughout Michigan’s journey I could only admire her for her strength.

I adored the romance on this story. It contributes to the main themes and offers a supportive and decent male character for the story. I also just generally loved their connection and enjoyment of each other’s company.

Michigan vs The Boys is a sports novel I look forward to adding to our library shelves and sharing with many readers its important message of strength and determination.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library
Profile Image for Megan.
1,193 reviews72 followers
January 25, 2020
I just binged this in a day and I loved every second of it. I want so much more - I could read an entire series about Mich and her girls kicking ass on the ice and slaying life and never get bored. This novel is definitely a new favourite.

Also, I may not know a whole lot about ice hockey, but the Mighty Ducks films were basically my entire childhood, so I felt ALL THE FEELS while reading this
Profile Image for Susana.
310 reviews240 followers
August 21, 2020
3.5 stars

The message this book is attempting to convey is extremely important. I feel that there needs to be so many more stories like this that touch on gender discrimination in mixed gender team sports.

I have no doubt that this novel will make the blood of whoever reads it boil as it did mine. All throughout this story, Michigan has to endure the sexist remarks and attitudes coming from her teammates. These are completely disregarded by her team captain who tells her she just has to accept that because they’re guys, which is wrong in so many levels. What’s more, her mother is very much not supportive of her choice to join the male hockey team and her best friend is a total jerk, one of the worst I've ever read about if I’m being honest. So, let’s just say her life isn’t exactly going well.

On the bright side, she ends up dating a guy from the swimming team who she met right after it was announced that both hers and his teams were cut off. Their romance is cute and all, but it’s very insta-lovey which is definitely not my cup of tea.

As I’ve mentioned, I really appreciate the message this book brings home. Also, the writing made me fly through it and there were some funny bits sprinkled here and there.

Having said that, I think this book lacks a lot in the character depth department. Overall, they are quite basic and one-dimensional. Speaking of that, it bothered me how quickly Michigan forgave her best friend for being so selfish and self-centred,

In addition, although the writing is very easy to get through, there were a few cringe worthy dialogues and at times it almost felt like a Wattpad novel.

As I way see it, Michigan vs the Boys doesn’t really live up to the hype, but it was still an enjoyable read (well, taking out the parts when I was fuming due to her teammates). I’m grateful for this book as it highlights the importance of coming forward when you are suffering abuse, especially if you’re a young girl.

Read Gabby’s review here which summarises my thoughts perfectly.
16 reviews1 follower
January 29, 2021
This book is definitely my new favorite. I think everyone should read it!
Profile Image for Neide Gomes.
456 reviews30 followers
October 18, 2022
4.25/5 stars!

"This is the separate-the-men-from-the-boys part. Lucky for me, Im all girl."

This book contains: skates, Gatorade, statistics, punches, first dates, broom closets, bruises, earphones, college applications, hockey jerseys and ugly bullying.

I don’t think I have ever felt so frustrated and angry by reading a book.
I actually read this a few days ago, but I couldn’t write my thoughts right away, because of the way I felt. I needed some time to process the story and all the events to give my final thoughts… So here we go!
I knew I would love this book from the moment I read the synopsis. This book is about Michigan, a girl who plays on her school’s girl hockey team. She finds out the school is cutting her team’s budget, so everyone on the team goes their separate way by joining other teams - and even changing schools to keep practicing. But hockey is her passion and she can’t afford to practice somewhere else, so she decides to apply for the boy’s hockey team. Since she is crazy good, she gets a spot on the team but the boys are not happy with that and they start pranking her to make her quit. So the book is basically her trying to fight back the pranks and working hard to maintain her spot on the team!
What really surprised me was how serious the book is. I remember at some point I was starting to wonder why the boy’s “pranks” were escalating so much. To be completely honest, I was expecting a little cute twist mid-book where the boys would flip their behavior and defend her in an external situation and then everyone would get along... Well, that’s not what happens. Their behavior starts to escalate and becomes more and more abusive by the day.
At some point it gets painful to watch, but I was rooting for Michigan the entire time. Sometimes it’s difficult for a girl to prove her value in a man’s world, so I completely understand what she was feeling and that’s why I felt so angry for her. I also appreciate the author keeping some of her hockey girlfriends near! There is something magical about girl power.
I really loved reading this not only because I really liked the story, but because it gave me such strong feelings - which does not happen often. Don’t be fooled, this is not your ordinary contemporary girl-beats-boys book. It’s a story about bullying and perseverance, even when the world seems against you. Definitely a book I will not forget.
I feel like this book is very underrated! I would highly recommend this book if you like feminist books with strong female leads. Just be aware of trigger warnings for abuse, bullying and violence throughout the book.

Blog | Bookstagram
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,703 reviews625 followers
May 19, 2020
In this book, our main character Michigan joins the boys' team when the girls' hockey team loses its funding. The boys aren't happy about that, and neither is their coach, so she has to deal with violent misogyny and abuse from them. Which made this book a very anger-inducing read. I especially found myself angry at the coach, who has a daughter himself but is so extremely misogynistic that I hated him even more than Michigan's team mates.

Beyond anger though, this book really didn't make me feel much. The main reason for that is that the book isn't very fleshed out. There's the main issues, yes, but aside from that, the characters don't have much depth, and neither does the setting. It's sometimes hard to follow the story and parts of it feel rushed, like the start and ending of Michigan's relationship.

CWs: toxic masculinity, misogyny/sexism, assault/violence, rape drugs & attempted rape, bullying, diet talk, homophobic language ("d*ke" used as a slur), ableist language (mostly from the bullies)
Profile Image for Karole Cozzo.
Author 6 books231 followers
August 13, 2019
Carrie Allen achieves the hat trick in her debut novel, scoring with a humorous and heartfelt writing style, a tough-as-nails heroine any reader would be proud to champion, and a solidly-constructed story that honestly examines the costs and benefits of taking a stand.' A much 'bigger' book than I expected going in, this is a must-read for all adolescents - not just hockey fans - about navigating difficult choices in life and deciding when enough is enough. Bonus points for a super sweet romance that proves nice guys don't always finish last!

I loved so many things about this book - the totally bad-ass leading lady, the female friendships that evolved throughout the story, the swoony and supportive swim dude, and the honesty that was built into Michigan's struggles. Few high schoolers are as tough as Michigan, and I love that soon she'll be out in the world for them to emulate. This one's a win!
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,376 reviews233 followers
September 19, 2019
Michigan was so excited for this season. She was finally going to be leading her hockey team along side her best friend, Brie, but her dreams were crushed, when the girls' team was disbanded due to budget cuts. As each of her teammates explored new opportunities, Michigan was not ready to give up her hockey dreams. After a successful try-out, she was awarded a spot on the boys' team, but it seemed this group of young men weren't willing to share the ice with a strong female player. They planned to torment Michigan until she quit the team, but that was one plan she would not be going along with.

I think my love of sports books is well-known. These books never fail to get my adrenaline pumping and my spirit soaring, but this story made all that happen for very different reasons. There was the euphoria I felt as this young woman boldly attempted to go where she was at a disadvantage, the pride I felt as I watched her succeed, and then there was the fury I experienced seeing her "teammates" harass, abuse, debase, and assault her. Let's just say, I experienced a lot of emotions as I read Michigan's story, but I was so engrossed and involved and regret not one second of it.

I was a Michigan fan from the very beginning. Here was this young woman, who just wanted to play the sport she loved. She was willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears, and seeing all her accomplishments on the ice just filled my heart with joy. I didn't only experience her highs, though. Allen did a magnificent job depicting her isolation, inner struggle, and self-doubt as well.

The hardest parts were when her own team waged a war against her. My heart ached as I watched her tormented by the so-called leaders of her team. They started small, but it escalated quickly. And, yes, I was yelling things like, "Your dad is a cop!", and "Tell SOMEONE!", but Michigan was determined to stick it out. The way she reasoned with herself as to why she shouldn't tell followed that oh, so familiar teen logic. I may not have agreed with her, but I sort of understood her reasoning, to some extent, and I felt it was realistic.

Michigan was sort of lucky though, because even when things looked really bad, she had some fantastic people on her side. The girls' team may have drifted a bit, but when push came to shove, they were there for her. The support her former teammates gave her was wonderful, and women supporting women will always score big points in my book.

I also was really grateful, that Allen included some positive male characters. First and Foremost, there was Jack, the star of the swim team, who encouraged Michigan to take that chance and try out for the boys' team. He was that wonderful unicorn kind of boy I cannot resist, and I simply adored him. I also had much love for Michigan's younger brother, Trenton. He was simply an amazing source of inspiration and strength for his sister. There were all these little things he did throughout the story, which summed up to a heck of a lot of support for her, especially when her belief in herself seemed to be waning. Michigan's also shared a lovely relationship with her dad, and it was fantastic to see a grown man displaying the sorts of emotions he did with his daughter.

Not to worry, though, because this story ended on a high note for me, which made up for all my pain and anguish throughout this story.

Though I am sad, that in 2019, stories like this are still relevant, I was appreciative of the way Allen told this tale and handled the issues.


A wonderfully told story of one girl's battle with the toxic norms and double standards plaguing society, as she fought to attain her dream.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

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