Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she assumes Nicole will too. But Nicole signs up for dance camp with a new friends instead, and so begins the toughest summer of Astrid's life. There are bumps and bruises as Astrid learns who she is without Nicole and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl.
Review: Roller Girl is a delightful graphic novel that explores the mercurial nature of tween friendships and the rush of excitement of discovering a new sport. One summer tests the friendship between Astrid and Nicole who have been best friends since elementary school. As their interests diverge, they begin to explore their own individuality.
When the girls go to the roller derby one night, Astrid is immediately hooked and jumps at the chance to attend a roller-derby camp, skating alongside the tough, dyed girls. Nicole, however, is passionate about ballet, decides not to follow along with Astrid, creating the first real fight the girls have ever had. The rift is organic and we can identify with the emotions of both girls. As Astrid and Nicole spend time apart, they quickly broaden their horizons and make new friends in their new circles: Astrid with her roller-derby cohorts and Nicole with the popular ballet crowd. What really impressed me was Astrid's journey of becoming a roller girl from dealing with the bumps, bruises, and falls that come along with the sport as well as the emphasis on teamwork and the real meaning of friendship.
Jamieson captures the voice of Astrid beautifully with plenty of preteen angst, snark, and eye rolls. The juxtaposition of the winding ways of roller derby plays off of the twist and turns of Astrid and Nicole's friendship. The panels are easy to read with bright illustrations that evoke the familiar emotions from its reader and complement the text quite nicely. Definitely recommend this book to your readers who loved Raina Telegemeier's graphic novel.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.
If you like this book try: Amelia Rules series by Jimmy Gownley, Smile by Raina Telegemeier, Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge