Review of Akim Aliu: Dreamer

DreamerAkim Aliu: Dreamer
by Akim Aliu with Greg Anderson Elysée; illus. by Karen De la Vega and Marcus Williams
Middle School, High School    Graphix/Scholastic    128 pp.
2/23    9781338787610    $24.99
Paper ed.  9781338787603    $14.99

Former NHL player Aliu made headlines in 2020 when he shared stories of the racism and hazing he faced as a person of color in professional hockey. The son of a Nigerian father and Ukrainian mother, Aliu was born in Nigeria and spent his early years in Russia before his family immigrated to Canada and he discovered his love for hockey. His adoration of the sport was tested by persistent and devastating racism throughout his adolescence and beyond. This graphic memoir follows him from childhood through his exit from the NHL and to the formation of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, which makes hockey accessible to “children from diverse communities ­underrepresented in the sport.” The narrative is notable for its emotional clarity and the strength with which the concise text carries both Aliu’s pain and his resolve. Dynamic comic-panel art serves the story with expressiveness of motion and feeling. Grabbing readers at the intersection of sports and social justice, this is a welcome addition to the graphic-memoir genre.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Alex Schaffner

Alex Schaffner, a former Horn Book intern, is the events director and a bookseller at an independent bookstore in Boston, MA.

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