Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson Book Review

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Astrid and her best friend Nicole have been friends since kindergarten. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead, putting their friendship in jeopardy. Roller derby is a lot harder than Astrid thought it would be and it turns out that she isn't that good at it. With a truck load of persistence though, Astrid finds herself in her first roller derby match. But will Nicole be there?

I am absolutely unequivocally in love with this book. Perfect for fans of Smile and Sisters, Roller Girl is beautifully drawn and full of fantastic characters. Astrid is your typical middle schooler who is dealing with her first friendship-breakup. This is one of the harder growing-up lesson and I really felt for Astrid as she struggled with this. Sometimes friends grow apart and it isn't because of other kids or bullies, simply that you don't share the same passions anymore. Even more interesting is Jamieson's choice in making Astrid not that great at roller skating and by extension, Roller Derby. Despite weeks at Derby Camp, Astrid doesn't improve significantly either and yet she perseveres. I remember reading an article years ago that said that the people who are most successful at a thing are not those who are naturally gifted, but rather those who have to work hard in order to be good. With her goals and passion, I can see Astrid improving greatly in the sport she has chosen.

What I also loved about this story, beyond the great derby names and colorful illustrations, is its uniqueness. There are only a handful of books featuring Roller Derby and I must admit, this is the first one I have read. Jamieson highlights the independence and strength required for the sport, as well as the hard work and dedication. Truthfully, having never seen a live derby match, it made me interested to go to one. There is a lot of depth in this coming of age story and a good deal of fun that I think young readers are going to love.