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Book Review

Rocket Blues by David Skuy has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is part of the “Rocket” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Since his parents’ divorce, 13-year-old Bryan “Rocket” Rockwood and his mom have lived in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood. Bryan’s friend Maddy lives in the same apartment building. When her mom ran off with another man, her mom’s critical, hard-drinking ex-boyfriend, Griffen, let Maddy stay.

Bryan lives for hockey. He has played with the AAA Huskies for several seasons, alongside his friends Ty and Adam. His small size embarrasses him, but he’s proven his value as a high-scoring center. He and the other veteran players meet their new coach, Barker, at tryouts. They assume their spots are secure, but Barker builds his roster based on player size. He cuts Bryan from the team.

Angry and disappointed, Bryan begs his mom to contact other AAA teams about openings. Even the lowest ranked AAA team rejects him because he’s small. He’s forced to choose between sitting out the season or settling for the AA Bowmont Blues. Despite his humiliation, he decides to play.

Ty and Adam, still Huskies, talk about the European tour Barker is arranging. They befriend AAA players Harry and Kinger and invite them to join their school floor hockey team, the Butt Kickers. The new additions belittle Bryan, and he quits. A girl named Megan and her intellectual friends recruit Bryan to join their trivia team. They are a person short for the upcoming competition. The current members lack knowledge in the sports category.

Bryan enjoys playing for the Blues, much to his surprise. The players aren’t ego-driven and hockey-obsessed like his former teammates. They admire him and love the feeling of winning. Coach Sonia values his insight and leadership. Bryan respectfully urges the players to take more initiative rather than relying on his skills alone.

Mom and Maddy sacrifice their time and happiness to support Bryan’s hockey dreams. Mom doesn’t own a car, so Bryan depends on Griffen for transportation to practices. Mom feels compelled to accept Griffen’s date invitations, and Maddy has to spend her evening driving to and from the rink with him. Maddy finally blows up at Bryan, and he realizes he’s been selfish and unappreciative.

When the trivia team faces off against the Butt Kickers in floor hockey, Kinger picks a fight. Ty and Adam stick up for Bryan, and Kinger quits. Reunited with his friends, Bryan begins slighting Megan and the trivia team.

Due to low AA enrollment, the league adds two AAA teams, including the Huskies, to Bryan’s division. The night the Blues face the Huskies, Griffen is supposed to drive Bryan and his mom to the rink. He arrives late and drunk, with Maddy in the car. Mom demands he let Maddy out. Griffen says if Maddy leaves, she can’t return to his apartment. Mom insists Maddy will live with her and Bryan, and if Griffen gives them any grief, she will call social services.

Bryan, Mom and Maddy take the bus and arrive just before the game. Bryan gives his teammates a pep talk, and they play well until he’s thrown out for arguing with the ref. The Blues lose, and Barker offers Bryan his old spot on the Huskies. Bryan considers, then turns him down. He decides he’d rather stay with the Blues. He makes up with his trivia teammates and participates in the tournament.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Bryan’s mom works long hours since her husband left four years earlier. Bryan sees his dad once a month, and Dad rarely pays child support. Maddy’s mom left with another man a year ago, and Maddy has no one to live with except her mom’s alcoholic ex-boyfriend, Griffen.

Griffen is critical and rude to the kids. Barker judges Bryan based on size. When he realizes he was wrong about Bryan’s abilities, he assumes he can lure the boy back to his team. Sonia is a caring coach who draws on Bryan’s AAA experience and helps his family find the transportation they need.


The Lord’s name is used in vain once. The words p---, butt, heck, suck and crap also appear.

Some of Bryan’s teammates briefly joke about killing each other with samurai swords and hammers, and they ponder the blood splatter that would result.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Griffen drinks often and sometimes drives drunk. Bryan’s mom refuses to ride with him or let him drive Bryan to the game, and she demands he let Maddy out of the car.

Lying: Bryan thinks his mom had to lie to get him into the wealthy school he attends.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 to 12




David Skuy






Record Label



Scholastic Canada Ltd.


On Video

Year Published



Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta, Canada), 2016


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