Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

I want to draw a huge heart and write Cheriee loves Roller Girl inside it, except that it probably isn't roller derby style. Honestly though, I love this book so much I would give it many more than goodreads 5 miserly stars. 

This is one of the best coming of age books I've read in a long time. Astrid, our 12 year old protagonist, fell in love with roller derby at a bout her mother took her to, and then signed up for roller derby summer camp. At first she hardly knew how to roller skate, never mind know the skills necessary for a derby. But gradually, through grit and determination, she improved and came to imagine herself a famous jammer some day. 

There is much to love about this graphic novel, but it is the characters that drew me in. Almost all of them are rich and complex individuals who make mistakes and grow and learn from them. Instead of going to roller derby camp with Astrid, her best friend, Nicole, goes to ballet camp with Rachel, a bully whom Astrid detests. This ends up with the two former best friends on the outs. Thankfully Astrid connects with Zoe, one of the roller girls. I love how all of them, but especially Astrid, grow and show glimpses of the amazing young women they will one day become. There is a lovely contrast between the toughness of the roller girls on the rink and how empathic and supportive they are off it. I loved that because of them, Astrid developed the strength to act with integrity instead of pettiness with her girlfriends.

I appreciate how much I learned about Roller Derby. One of my younger colleagues played and coached Roller derby before age and motherhood got in the way of it. (This is a young woman's sport!) I'm looking forward to talking to her now that I have a better understanding of the game. 

I sure am glad I purchased two copies of this graphic novel for our library. Fans of Raina Telgemeier will love it. I can hardly wait for them to arrive so I can get them into the hands of readers and chat about it. 

By the way, does anyone in the Vancouver BC want to go to watch roller derby on May 9th? 

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