Goodreads: Roller Girl
Astrid and her friend Nicole have always done everything together. But now Astrid is off to roller derby camp while Nicole goes to dance camp. As the two girls begin to drift apart, Astrid hopes that toughening up in roller derby will help her face her fears off the rink, as well.
Roller Girl is a fun look at roller derby, but also a sympathetic depiction of two friends growing apart as they grow up. Astrid does not understand why her best friend Nicole would rather learn ballet than attend roller derby camp with her. And she certainly does not understand why Nicole is now hanging out with mean girl Rachel. But pouring her heart and soul into a new sport will help Astrid find new strength and maybe, just maybe, repair a relationship that has gone wrong.
Though many middle grade books deal with friendship issues, Roller Girl feels unique because Astrid’s best friend does not seem to be consciously rejecting her. Rather, she and Nicole are simply and naturally drifting apart due to their different interests. Plus, if truth be told, Astrid is really not listening to Nicole or her concerns. In other words, Astrid is the main reason her friendship is falling apart–except she does not have the self-awareness to realize it.
It is a gutsy move to make the protagonist the “bad” friend in a relationship. However, Jamieson still makes Astrid relatable and lovable. She is not trying to be mean. She is simply self-absorbed and her friend Nicole is not yet able to articulate her feelings. Together, the two seem like the perfect recipe for a failed friendship.
Overall, however, Roller Girl feels like a fun and upbeat book. Astrid may be having trouble communicating with her friend and her mom, and trouble adjusting to roller derby. However, watching Astrid persevere in a world where girls dye their hair blue and take on names like “Rainbow Bite” can’t help but be exciting. Ultimately, Roller Girl is a celebration of strength–a celebration that might just convince a new generation of girls to join roller derby.