Summary: Roll with It
Twelve-year-old Ellie is a sassy, determined baker. It just so happens that she also has cerebral palsy and has to use a wheelchair. Her dad couldn’t deal with her being ill at birth (and for months after), so he pretty much skipped out on her and her mom who’s been her number one advocate.
When Ellie’s grandfather’s Alzheimer’s takes a turn for the worse, Ellie and her mom move into her grandparents trailer in Oklahoma to help out for six months.
There, Ellie is once again a new kid navigating the struggles than many people with disabilities have to face. Thankfully, as she deals with the changes in her family and finding a place in Oklahoma, she has a couple of new friends and in typical Ellie fashion, keeps rolling with life’s punches.
Ellie is a GEM. This book is so beautifully written. As someone who appreciates both plot and language, it’s rare to find a middle-grade book that nails both. Many have excellent plots and characterization, but Roll with It just has a warmth. Ellie’s voice never sounds contrived, neither do any of the other characters’. I could easily imagine them being people I’d meet next door.
As soon as I cracked open this book, Ellie had me wrapped around her finger. I was transported to the setting, whether it was near-frigid winter or a deliciously warm summer day. And speaking of delicious, Ellie can bake!(!!!). A few chapters throughout the book begin with letters to her culinary heroes after she’s recreated their recipes. Baking is so inextricably linked to Ellie’s character — I loved it.
I’d be remiss not to mention how big a win this book is for people with disabilities — children with disabilities. The only other book I’ve read about a child with CP is Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind. Unlike Draper’s protagonist, Ellie is verbal, can feed herself, socialize, and knead some good bread dough. I appreciated seeing another perspective.
It was also eye-opening to see the struggles faced by people with disabilities, and to take note of ways other people can be more considerate. Simple things like not parking in the handicapped space go a long way.
All the characters in this book are memorable — from Mema to Bert, to my favorite, Coralee.
Jamie Sumner’s Roll with It is a heartwarming, inspiring debut about a girl with an inextinguishable spirit. As a mother of a CP kid herself, Jamie’s first-hand experience shines through in this novel. She skillfully highlights the challenges of disability, without making the entire book about disability. Most importantly, however, she reminds readers that children with disabilities are more than their disability. Like everyone else, they have heart, talents, and a whole lot of character.
JUST BUY IT.
Buy This Book
More Middle-Grade Reviews
- Not If I Can Help It by Carolyn Mackler
- Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo
- Out of Place by Jennifer Blecher
Have you read Roll with It or any other good books about disability? What did you think? If you have any favorites, please feel free to share them with me in the comments.