July 27, 2012 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Book Review: 'Defenseman' ... a Novel

by Lauren D'Antonio/CHN Reporter

We all have obstacles — it is how we deal with them that make us great. Author Michael Maloni's latest novel delves into the topic, with hockey as its backdrop.

The book "Defenseman" isn’t just another feel-good hockey story about the rush of scoring a goal or the jokes in the locker room. The story of Boston defenseman Steve Tomasini delves deep into the heart of his older brother’s struggle with mental illness and shares the importance of unity within the team.

Steve Tomasini is not just a local guy who owns his own business; he is a talented hockey player whose dedication and drive propels him to success with Boston University’s elite hockey team. His older brother, Tony, shares Steve’s passion and determination, but he faces a much more difficult challenge. He confronts his struggle with mental health and battles it face-on, determined to be victorious.

The plot has many valuable lessons, the story is well-formulated, and the lives of the characters keep one feeling along with them — willing them to succeed.

Maloni shares many of his characters' struggles. He had to overcome similar obstacles, including three forms of mental illnesses and an endocrine condition that contributed to the problem. Only nine years ago, Maloni was just out of the hospital and unemployed. He had a lot of time to think about things during his illness and he especially thought about his favorite sport — hockey. He never was able to play hockey during high school or college, but his love of hockey began with the 1980 Lake Placid Gold Medal Olympic Team. He knew every guy on the team, his favorites being Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Jack O'Callahan, "Buzz" Schneider, Mark Pavelich, Dave Silk, and Mark Johnson. Ever since then, his love for hockey has grown throughout the years, along with his gift of writing.

Maloni always had the talent of writing, but back when he first started loving hockey, he felt his writing skills weren't mature enough yet. Writing is not always an exact science, but after fighting with his illness, Maloni believed he was ready to start writing his book. He struggled through it, trying to form the plot. After sixteen drafts, he finally was able to send it to the publisher.

Michael Maloni has a purpose to his story that he wishes every hockey player and fan to walk away with. Just like his story’s characters, Steve and Tony Tomasini, Maloni wishes that each reader will be inspired to reach new heights.

“I think the novel will be beneficial to college hockey players because it will encourage them to be more than they are presently," Maloni said. "Be inventive and creative on the ice but also off it. Respect your teammates, coaches, fans, and profs. Keep the game and the surroundings of life fun.”

Sometimes even when we overcome our obstacles, we realize that some of our dreams have passed us by. Maloni encourages those who haven't reached the heights they strived for and his book is great encouragement for fans and players alike.

"Two things I would say about dreams and hockey are: the dream of life is still there if hockey ends — especially with college," Maloni said. "Also, if you make it, pass the puck; be big enough to share your dreams. Fans love it, kids love it. Enjoy your life, but make others' lives better."

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