‘Duh, duh, duh – The Sin Bin!’ Toad sang doomfully as I stepped into the penalty box. ‘Yeah, don’t do us any favours, Ass Eyes!’ This, shouted in the direction of the ref’s zebra back as she slammed the door. The box vibrated like the inside of an old piano and I edged around Toad to sit on the bench. I felt a gathering in my throat, adrenaline turning to venom, turning on me; the slow, snake-eyed blink. So embarrassing to be caught like that, acting out a private violence, frozen into a red split-second in your mind, like dreaming of peeing and then wetting the bed. The announcer drawled my penalty over the loudspeaker.
Isabel Norris has never left the ice. Her father was a hockey legend who died before she was born, and her grandparents have raised her in his skates.
When Iz leaves her grandmother behind to play for the Winnipeg University Scarlets, she struggles to fit in on this team of hard-hitting, tough-talking women with a penchant for buffets, beer bongs and raunchy humour - and a fierce loyalty to one another and to their sport. But in their raucous midst, Iz can't quite find her own place in the game.
As she moves between the rowdy hilarity of the Scarlets' dressing room and quiet, lyrical contemplations, Iz tries to navigate the ways loss plays out on the ice. Based largely on author Cara Hedley's three seasons on the University of Manitoba Bison, Twenty Miles celebrates women's hockey and offers an uncompromising look at the ways in which the sport both haunts and redeems the women who play it.
'[A] work of literary fiction that is surprisingly touching, honest, engaging and unusual - both in terms of its subject matter and perspective ... Hedley stickhandles her way around Iz's conundrum with beautiful agility, using deftly lyrical prose and insight to describe the rough and tumble of a hard-hitting game and the harsh realities of life.' - Winnipeg Free Press