Mini-Review: Roller Girl

Evidently, I had a bit of a binge on graphic novels recently.

Hooray!  Book binging is the best kind!

I was really looking forward to Roller Girl, and while it was quite good, it wasn't exactly the descending-from-heaven-MG-title I was looking for while Raina Telgemeier writes her next one (please, she is writing another, correct?).  I can't quite decide whether my newborn desire to take up roller derby is fortunate or unfortunate.

Oh, come on.  I come from a long line of klutzes.  Last week I walked--at full speed--into a solid wooden table corner.  That bruise is now a lovely purple-green.  Did I ever tell you about the time I flipped my sled and landed on my head?  I wasn't a kid then.  I was 26 years old . 

I've rollerbladed poorly in the past, and fallen on my butt more times than I'd like to admit, so I can't imagine trying to navigate past other people on roller skates while simultaneously trying to hip-check them into oblivion.  So I am kind of jealous of the author, Victoria Jamieson, who is part of a roller derby league, and who brings a ton of authenticity to this narrative.  Yet, I am trying to be practical, and I realize that I have neither the time nor the good relationship with gravity to be a roller derby girl.

Astrid doesn't really have a "thing" she's into doing.  She's not really known for anything--well, except that really nasty nickname she got when younger.  So when her mom takes her and her BFF Nicole to a roller derby jam, Astrid knows that her destiny is to be a star roller derby jammer.

Well, aside from the fact that Astrid skates about as well as I do, this is a great plan!

This is a really great book for exploring that strange growing-apart thing that happens to so many tweens as they hit middle school and high school.  Suddenly, a mutual love of puffy Cheetos over crunchy Cheetos just isn't enough to make you OMGBFFs!  I've been there, done that, and it's awkward and painful and sad--but mostly it's a strange kind of relief.  Jamieson really does a great job of portraying this sort of friendship break in a realistic way, where neither girl is "evil" and they both make poor choices.

I also really enjoyed the roller derby setting.  Astrid is surrounded by kick-butt, take no prisoners, self-confident, strong women.  Being able to skate for hours in the heat, building endurance, and hip-checking the bejeebus out of other super-strong ladies is what's valued here.  In fact, Astrid's body shape and the shape of her teammates isn't brought up as being a Big Deal at all.  Which was very, very cool.

I do wish that this were a bit shorter, actually.  Some of the practice sessions felt like filler, and Astrid's elaborate lie went on way longer than I could have pulled it off (but then I am a terrible liar).
However, this is a great, empowering read for tweens who feel a little lost, a little stifled, or a little alone.  


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