Title: Roller Girl
Author: Victoria Jamieson
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Check this book out on Goodreads.
For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl. (Source: Goodreads)
When Astrid’s mom takes her and her best friend, Nicole, to the roller derby everything changes. Astrid decides she’s found her destiny, while Nicole is not interested in the derby at all. Astrid signs up for a roller derby camp, while Nicole goes to dance camp. At camp Astrid learns how difficult roller derby really is, and how difficult friendships can be too. Astrid has to learn new lessons at camp she had never considered, like what it takes to be a good friend to someone. Can Astrid learn to be a great skater and keep her friendships?
This book was amazing! I could not put this book down, it was so engaging and interesting. I absolutely love roller derby – the idea of it I guess as I am too terrified to play and have never had the opportunity to watch it in real life – so this book caught my eye immediately when I saw it at work. The story was really engaging, with lots of great messages for young readers and adults alike. I also loved the art, which was the style that I like, and had lots of interesting colour choices. This is likely to become one of my most highly recommended MG graphic novels.
Roller Girl follows Astrid as she begins to do roller derby when she is heading into middle school. While the book deals with her work to become a better skater and to learn the moves of derby, the bigger story is really about Astrid learning how to deal with “growing up”. Astrid has to face a lot of big challenges in this book, like losing friends, making new friends, lying, disappointing people, and learning to be herself. I think Roller Girl took all of this on well, keeping the plot moving at a good pace and there was a great message in the end about being a good friend, being yourself, having faith in yourself, and not lying to people. This book definitely reminded me of Raina Telgemeier’s work which has a similar kind of style and spirit. These books are also some of my top books for MG readers that feature females young girls should look up to.
I loved Astrid, she definitely reminded me of myself as a young girl, though I think Astrid was a lot fiercer that I’ve ever been. I think Astrid is a good model of being who you are and not being ashamed of yourself for having different interests or for not being as good at things as other people. A character in this book who really serves as an inspiration for Astrid, and hopefully for readers, is Rainbow Bite who inspires and encourages Astrid to take change and work hard at the things she loves. Another character who Astrid learns a lot from is Lucy, her new friend from roller derby. Astrid learns a lot about friendship from Lucy, which I think is such a great thing because this book really deals a lot with the importance of friendship. I definitely enjoyed the growth that Astrid showed in this book and thought it was inspiring and served as a good reminder of the kind of things we can all kind of forget, like being considerate to friends.
I adored the art in this book. As I’ve said it reminds me a little of Raina Telgemeier. I think it has a certain level of grit to it – just from the subject of roller derby alone. I think this allowed some interesting colour choices like Astrid having blue hair. The girls at derby have such an interesting style which I always admired as a kid. I think Jamieson really captured this style well. I also really loved her illustrations of the skaters as they captured the movement of the derby well. I think the warfaces were probably my favourite illustrations at the derby!
I loved this book. The story, characters, and art were fantastic. This is definitely one of my favourite middle grade graphic novels and I highly recommend it to fans of Raina Telgemeier.