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3/29/22 Book Talk: Home or Away by Kathleen West

Join ModernWell in a collaboration with Magers and Quinn Booksellers to celebrate Kathleen West’s latest book, Home or Away. Be sure to sign up to attend the book reading, Q&A and signing. Doors open at 6:30pm and pre-orders of the book can be purchased through the M&Q website.

West’s book captures the life of Leigh Mackenzie, a successful investment banker and past host hockey player whose career ended when she didn’t make the Olympic hockey team. It describes the changing dynamics and relationships that came with the end of her athletic career as well as new opportunities that arise when she crosses paths with former friends and teammates.

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Leigh Mackenzie is a successful investment banker happily married to her college sweetheart and is the proud mom of a hockey prodigy living in Florida—many miles from her hockey-obsessed Minnesota hometown of Liston Heights. Susy Walker never left Liston Heights. She was Leigh’s close friend and teammate, until Leigh didn’t make the Olympic hockey team—and Susy did. Leigh’s failure not only ended her career in hockey, but her relationships with everyone in it, including Susy.

Leigh and Susy’s paths unexpectedly cross twenty years after their fateful tryout when a career opportunity lands Leigh and her family back in Minnesota. Leigh is suddenly thrust back into the ultra-competitive world she left behind, but this time as a parent willing to do whatever it takes to give her son a shot. For Leigh, “whatever it takes” involves facing people and memories from her past that she thought she’d closed the door on two decades ago. One of those people is Susy, who knows Leigh’s darkest secret and the real reason Leigh didn’t make the team all those years ago. The other person is their former coach Jeff Carlson.

When it becomes clear that Leigh’s son Gus may not have what it takes to make the “A” team, Leigh’s nemesis and former coach hints at favors in exchange for ice time and preferential treatment. These favors require Leigh to deny the truth about the nature of her relationship with Jeff when he was her coach. A relationship that was predatory and inappropriate and seems to have become a pattern for him with other female players. Desperate to keep her history hidden for the sake of her marriage and to help her son make the team and torn about doing the right thing for other women in the sport, Leigh is caught in the ultimate bind: Come clean about what happened when she was an Olympic hopeful or play Jeff’s game. In a moment of desperation, Leigh realizes the one person she thought was her biggest competitor — her former teammate — might turn out to be her biggest ally.

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