Year of the Puffin | Critical Book Review

Year of the Puffin by Gregory Phipps presents an unconventional yet captivating tale set in the realm of an Icelandic football team. Phipps, in this offbeat sports fiction, introduces readers to the eccentric lives of key characters, offering a refreshing perspective on both the personal and athletic fronts.

Offbeat Characters and Their Quirky Journeys

Phipps intricately weaves the narrative around Tommie Gatz, the university’s athletic director; Gwen Arnheim, the trailblazing coach; and the contrasting quarterbacks, Lambert Slusher and Dorian Stark IV. Set against the backdrop of a record-breaking season for The Puffins, the novel delves into their individual struggles with death, love, and heartbreak, illustrating that victory isn’t solely achieved on the field.

Secrets Unveiled: Drama on and off the Field

The plot unfolds as Gwen, a Canadian coach navigating a male Division II football team in Iceland, faces pivotal decisions. The introduction of an outdated play, the Wishbone, sets off a chain reaction, unraveling secrets like Tommie’s recruiting slush fund. Amidst a series of thrilling games, the characters’ personal dramas escalate, from Dorian’s mental health challenges to Lambert’s complex background and relationship woes.

Tension-Building Artistry and Character Complexity

Phipps masterfully constructs layers of tension, seamlessly shifting perspectives among the characters. Each chapter unfolds with emotional depth, offering a glimpse into the characters’ intricate lives. From Lambert’s brooding senior year to Tommie’s midlife crisis, the characters are both genuine and quirky, provoking a range of emotions.

Iceland: More Than a Backdrop

Beyond its characters, Year of the Puffin portrays Iceland as a character itself. Phipps paints the nation as a paradoxical place with its strong winds influencing football plays and cold rain interrupting practices. Iceland, with its volcanoes and vibrant cities, becomes a unique setting that embraces the oddity of its football team while celebrating their victories with pride.

Conclusion: A Wild Season Beyond the Field

In this sports novel, the actual gameplay takes a back seat, emphasizing that football is about much more than strategic plays. Phipps invites readers to immerse themselves in a world of distinct characters and explore the peculiarities of Icelandic life. Whether intrigued by eccentric personalities or drawn to the allure of Iceland, Year of the Puffin promises an enjoyable journey through its pages.

Publisher, Genre, Print Length, and ISBN:

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Atmosphere PressFiction / Sports320 pages9781639889211

Year of the Puffin by Gregory Phipps presents an unconventional yet captivating tale set in the realm of an Icelandic football team. Phipps, in this offbeat sports fiction, introduces readers to the eccentric lives of key characters, offering a refreshing perspective on both the personal and athletic fronts. Offbeat Characters and Their Quirky Journeys Phipps…