Middle Grade Review: Roller Girl

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Genres: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade
Maturity Level: 2+
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Twelve-year-old 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 friend 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. 


I started reading middle grade as an adult a little more than a year ago, and this is the first book I’ve read that I’m really disappointed didn’t exist when I was a young person. I think 10-year-old me would have loved it so much, and adult-me sure as heck did. Definitely one of my new favorite graphic novels!

The elephant in the room is that this book is definitely about roller derby. It’s such a niche sport, one probably few kids even know about, but Jamieson makes it accessible without taking away from its coolness factor or badassery. And even though roller derby is front and center of the plot, the book is really about much more universal things, like growing apart from friends, finding your tribe, and growing up.

Plus, roller derby is effing AMAZING.

I love Asterid. She is so different from the female protagonists we are used to seeing. Aside from the fact that she hates pink and thinks boys are icky, she’s angry a lot of the time, and learning what to do with that. Its not something I read a lot of in middle grade, and I appreciated that it was there. She’s also actively in semi-conflict with her mom over her appearance. Mom wants her to start dressing nicer, maybe wear makeup, but Astrid just wants to wear black t-shirts. I think this is something a lot of pre-teen girls can relate to.

The emotions in this book are so intense. I cried a few times. At a graphic novel. So yeah.

I love this style of illustration. It’s pretty predominant in MG Graphic Novels now, nothing too unique, but Jamieson executed it really well. The characters emote so well, maybe better than in other graphic novels I’ve seen in this style. And the coloration was vibrant and purposeful.

Overall, this book is AMAZING. Everything a Middle Grade Graphic Novel should be. Highly recommend for kids of all stripes, but especially those who haven’t found their “thing” yet. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Middle Grade Review: Roller Girl

    1. Roller Derby is a really interesting sport that frankly MOST people don’t even know exists. Even in communities that have roller derby, it’s not a popular activity. Nor is it the kind of sport I would enjoy playing. But this book and the movie I watched about roller derby were really fun. 🙂

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  1. I’ve never read this book, but it has a special place in my heart. One of my daughters is fairly severely dyslexic. A lovely librarian recommended graphic novels in general, and this one in particular, as a way to improve reading (short snippets of text, pictures for context, etc.). When she read this, something “clicked” and her reading ability took a leap forward and then steadily improved to the point where on most days she reads at or above her level (you should see that girl blast through a “Baby Sitters Club” book).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YAY!!! Oh I love to hear that! Out of curiosity, is she reading the old BSC novels or still rocking out the awesome new graphic novel adaptations?

      I love that so many kids are getting the opportunity to read graphic novels now. It really boosts their confidence with reading “big” books, as well as teaching them important interpersonal skills as they learn to read the body language and facial expressions of the characters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She reads the older ones :). She hasn’t really read graphic novels since “Roller Girl” and another short series that I don’t remember. That was enough to “jump start” her reading and now she’s the most prolific reader of our three kiddos

        Liked by 1 person

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