This American graphic novel combines an action-packed sports story with a coming of age tale as it depicts the summer ‘tween-ager’ Astrid becomes totally smitten with the sport of roller derby whilst having to start high school and re-negotiate friendships. When Astrid’s Mom, who likes to make sure her daughter has varied cultural experiences, takes Astrid and her best friend, Nicole, to see a roller derby game Astrid instantly falls in love with the sport and signs up for summer camp expecting Nicole to follow suit. Nicole, however, chooses ballet camp and a new friend instead and so Astrid begins a tough and confusing summer of learning a new sport, discovering what, and who, really matters to her, admitting to her own mistakes and making some difficult choices.
This is a funny, poignant, warm-hearted graphic novel which expressively conveys Astrid’s confusion and uncertainty as her familiar world changes around her. The graphic format is perfect for depicting the fast-paced, physical, girl-power world of roller derby with its fearsome body art and intimidating names. Victoria Jamieson is both an illustrator and a roller derby player herself so the setting feels completely authentic and the fact that this contact sport is probably not very well known in the UK does not really matter as it is Astrid’s steep learning curve, perseverance and self-discovery that form the heart of this Newbery Honor Award winning book. At once humorous and perceptive, this novel is one to recommend to young people who may also be facing the difficulties of changing friendships and finding their place in an unfamiliar adolescent world.