Review: Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Self-belief and the changing nature of childhood friendships are the core themes of this quirky graphic novel. After seeing a Roller Derby demonstration, Astrid knows that this is something that she wants to get into--and better still, summer is coming and there is going to be a Roller Derby themed day camp happening in her town. Astrid signs up and assumes that her best friend Nicole will be signing up too--after all, the pair do everything together. Astrid gets an unpleasant surprise when she discovers that Nicole is going to attend ballet camp with Rachel, a mean girl from their class. And then she discovers that Roller Derby isn't anywhere near as easy as she first thought. This summer might just turn out to be the loneliest of all.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this short novel. I read it all in one sitting and found myself laughing and crying along with Astrid. She's not perfect, but being ditched by her best friend without warning was certainly a bitter pill for her to swallow. (As is the point where she realises that most--though perhaps not all--of Nicole's reasons were valid.) Actually, to be honest, I hated Nicole for not being upfront and for wanting to be the best friend of a horrid manipulator, but Astrid is able to resolve the situation with maturity ... eventually.
I loved reading about how she devoted herself to her chosen sport and was able to develop new friendships with her teammates. There is a particularly touching part toward the end where it becomes obvious that she's learned more about being a better friend, and does something to help Zoey, a girl who might just become her new best friend. There are sound morals about having a strong work ethic and how if you want something, you have to be prepared to work for it. This one would be an excellent book to give to girls of a certain age, whose friendships are beginning to change.