Summary: Roller Girl
In Roller Girl, Astrid and Nicole are best friends who do nearly everything together. Until Astrid’s mom takes them to watch roller derby. While Astrid can’t get enough of the cool girls and all the derby action, Nicole is immediately put off. So when Astrid signs up for junior derby, Nicole chooses a ballet elective instead. However, Astrid never tells her mom that she’s derby rolling instead of doing ballet with Nicole. Things get more difficult when Astrid realizes that roller derby is no joke — physically, mentally, and emotionally. Will she make it?
This was an eye-opener for me especially with regard to the roller derby sport. I didn’t even understand what it was or how it worked before reading this. I’m still not a fan of the sport and I honestly don’t get the point, but I liked that Astrid was able to work at it consistently and eventually find success and community doing it. It also definitely improved her self-esteem overall.
The other part of this story is Astrid’s family and her friendship with Nicole. Nicole makes another friend at ballet who is irrationally mean to Astrid and influences Nicole to an extent, but I’m all for more mature friendships in middle grade books, where friends can resolve differences and make amends — even if things never return exactly to the way they were — and Nicole and Astrid make the effort.
Overall: Roller Girl
Roller Girl is an action-packed exploration of roller derby, the thrill of finding a passion, and the power of perseverance. Fans of sports graphic novels like The Tryout and Play Like a Girl will love this one. I loved the illustration styles and the dual focus on the angst of middle school friendships and figuring out how to succeed at a tough spot. If you love middle grade books featuring tween girls in unique pursuits, this is one to snag.