Genre: YA fiction graphic novel
Length: 240 pages
Setting: I think near Seattle, Washington, present day or recent past (since cell phones aren’t ubiquitous)
Summary: Astrid and Nicole have been best friends since first grade. However, in the summer of their fifth grade, their relationship changes. Astrid is fascinated by roller derby after her mother takes her and Nicole to a roller derby match. Astrid wants to do a roller derby summer camp with Nicole, but Nicole wants to do a dance camp with annoying Rachel. They have a falling out, but Astrid still goes to roller derby camp. She’s intimidated at the camp because she can’t really skate and everyone else seems older and more experienced. She sticks with it, and learns the skills, really applying herself when there’s the promise of a mini-bout at the Rose City Rollers bout. She also makes friends with Zoey at roller derby camp, gets in trouble for lying to her mother, and eventually makes up with Nicole.
Final thoughts: This is such a good book on so many levels. There’s the story of roller derby and training for a new skill that Astrid undertakes. She’s not very good at the beginning, but she perseveres and improves dramatically during the course of the summer camp.
There’s the drama of moving from elementary school to middle school. Nicole is starting to be interested in boys, but Astrid isn’t, so Nicole starts hanging out with Rachel because she’s a little more mature than Astrid. Astrid is hurt, but doesn’t realize that in many ways she’s being selfish because she only wants her and Nicole to do with she likes. There’s some tension of not fitting in, but Astrid finds a new sense of identity in with the roller derby girls, which perhaps isn’t what her mother hoped she would be.
Finally, there’s quite a bit on how to be a good person in a relationship, whether that relationship is mother to daughter or friend to friend. As a bonus, my kids loved it. They both read the book multiple times. Mr. Curiosity said he liked the growth Astrid showed in roller derby and how she stuck with it, even though she didn’t start out very good at it.
The art adds to the story as well. It’s realistic art, with many different body types and skin colors being shown. There’s also occasional drawings done by Astrid.
Title comes from: The topic.
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