Over Labor Day weekend I read the first book in a Roller Derby series by Megan Sparks. I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive. I know nothing about Roller Derby and I wasn't sure whether or not reading about it would interest me. But after a chapter or two I was speeding along (had to pun, sorry).
Blurb: When Annie moves from London to a small American town in the Mid-West, she struggles to fit in. She gets off to a bad start when she makes an enemy of her school's queen bee and Cheer Leader, Kelsey. But she discovers a new passion – the exciting sport of roller derby – and makes friends with the cool and quirky girls on her team, the Liberty Belles. She also meets Jesse, the friendly boy who works at the roller rink, and Tyler, a cute all-American sports star. Meanwhile her Dad is starting a new life running a local cafe.
Megan Sparks has created an interesting character in Annie, an English girl who has chosen to move with her dad back to his American hometown instead of living with her mother in England. Annie comes to America not quite sure what to do with herself since she recently had to give up gymnastics because of her height. I thought that Annie's struggle to fit in, not just in her new school and new country, but in her new role as a non-gymnist added depth to her character. I also really liked how Sparks portrayed Annie's dad and her new artsy best friend.
I also found myself fascinated learning about Roller Derby. Since Annie is new to the sport, the reader learns it through her eyes. I cringed as she bruised and cheered when she finally started playing. I also found roller derby on television and opened the book to find out what I was watching.
The only criticism I had is that while the Roller Girls were interesting and varied, the cheerleaders were portrayed as typical mean girls. I hope that in future books we learn more about them and find out that there is more to them as well.
I'll definitely be reading that next book, and the others in the series as well. If you are a middle grader who reads YA or a teen or adult looking for a fun sporty read, you should too.