Astrid is struggling with the growing void of shared interests with her best friend, Nicole, when she discovers the world of roller derby. Driving home a lighthearted message about the importance of endurance and practice in order to improve, Jamieson has provided a liberating story featuring a preteen developing an identity, coming into one’s own, and being true to oneself. Using real names of junior skaters adds a quality of authenticity to this compelling story that draws the reader into a world unfamiliar to most. Clearly drawn panels with plenty of light and bright colors show Astrid as a light-skinned girl with straight dark brown hair who eats pad thai as well as chips. Minor characters with a variety of skin colors set this in a diverse community. The pencil-and-pen, full-color illustrations depict the tension and anxiety of a 12-year-old girl feeling utterly alone in the world, unable to confide in her single mother and alienated from her peers. Roller Girl marks Jamieson’s first efforts as an author, and it will not be the last. The same can be said for Astrid’s roller derby career; the reader hopes fervently to be able to join the journey again in the future.
Beth Gousman, Montclair School