This graphic novel is very popular at a 5th -6th grade building where I teach and after reading it, I see why the kids snag it off the shelf. This book is about middle school. I liked that it covered changing friends and changing circles, which is a huge deal in middle school. It’s hard for kids to adjust to new friends and new groups of people when they have been with the same group of individuals throughout grade school. It’s a whole new smorgasbord of kids in middle school and that’s what we have at this school where I teach and this author tackles this subject in this novel. I also like how Astrid assumes things, she assumes her best friend will do things because she is her “best friend”, she assumes roller skating won’t be hard, she assumes she won’t be caught in the lies that she tells, she assumes other things as that is how Astrid lives her life. I also liked the struggles that this novel tackles. I adored the main character Astrid because she was one determined individual. When she wants something, she tries her hardest to succeed. At the beginning of this novel, I thought she had low self-esteem and as the novel progresses she matures, she becomes a deeper person.
Astrid and Nicole have been best friends for years. Astrid’s mother exposes the girls to their first roller derby. An advertisement promoting Junior Roller Derby Camp inside the roller derby program excites Astrid and she feels that this is exactly what Nicole and Astrid will do this summer. Astrid is pumped about going to the camp and she starts to make a list of things she must do to be successful at the camp. Disappointment sets in when Astrid realizes that Nicole doesn’t want to attend the camp with her and that Nicole has her eyes set on Dance Camp with Rachel, a girl that Astrid doesn’t like. Astrid is not giving up on her dream of Junior Camp even if it means she will be attending it by herself. Meanwhile Nicole is attending Dance Camp with Rachel, pushing these two girls closer together and causing tension between the best friends where there was none before. I could feel the pain and frustration of the characters as they tried to find their independence. On day one, Astrid was going solo, in a strange environment and she was left feeling disappointment, angry, and frustrated and I know we all have been there. She needed a pep talk, someone to tell her it was okay and yet her best friend was no longer in the picture to give her those words that she really needed. I was hoping someone would step up to the plate and help her out before she gave up. I liked how she struggled; I liked how lots of the characters struggled in this novel and how they fought, for sometimes that is how you come through the storm to grow. This novel was better than I anticipated, it had great teachable moments, great tidbits within the bigger story. Now when students are reading this story, I can talk to them about it and hopefully make some connections with them.