This graphic novel, winner of the Newbery Honor Award, is set in Portland. The summer after fifth grade, 12-year-old Astrid signs up for a junior roller bowl derby camp. She assumes her best friend Nicole will too, but Nicole wants to attend ballet camp instead. The two drift apart, and Astrid is on her own, negotiating old and new friendships and the physical challenges of roller derby’s strange new world.
Roller Girl introduces the reader to colorful characters and a gritty, unfamiliar milieu. I knew nothing about roller derby before reading this novel, but the many concrete details ring true. The reader dives into training along with Astrid and finds out how physically demanding this sport is. You feel her exhaustion in your bones in a way that you don’t when reading about a superhero, which makes Astrid’s journey that much more satisfying. Jamieson adds spot-on dialogue and believable relationships, making this book a winner for girls and women of all ages.