Derby Girl by Shauna Cross
Reasons for reading: Caught my eye when I was ordering it for the library; Young Adult Challenge
Book description: "Meet Bliss Cavendar, a blue haired, indie-rock loving misfit stuck in the tiny town of Bodeen, Texas. Her pageant-addicted mother expects her to compete for the coveted Miss Bluebonnet crown, but Bliss would rather feast on roaches than be subjected to such rhinestone tyranny. Bliss' escape? Take up Roller Derby. When she discovers a league in nearby Austin, Bliss embarks on an epic journey full of hilarious tattooed girls, delicious boys in bands, and a few not-so-awesome realities even the most bad-assed derby chick has to learn.
First line: "I don't know how it happened or what sort of backroom deal went down, but apparently I'm living in a small Texas town with two culturally clueless imposters for legal guardians, when I just know my real parents are out there somewhere."
My thoughts: I enjoyed this book, even though I know nothing about roller derby. I might have to learn, though, it sounds pretty cool! This was a quick read, but a good one. Bliss is a funny, sarcastic, authentic-sounding teen narrator. She might sometimes feel like she's adopted and wish her parents were cooler, but deep down she really loves them, and her little sister. Her friendship with Bodeen's other misfit girl, Pash Amini, is realisitic - they're best buds but not immune to a fall-out. They share the typical outcast-girl things - love of thrift store and vintage clothes, Manic Panic-dyed hair, music snobbery and working at the Oink Joint - the only after-school job in town that will take them. Favourite clothes and songs play a big part - in particular there's the saga of Bliss' Stryper shirt, which is both funny and sad.
I've never come across roller derby in a book, YA or otherwise, so I thought that was a great way to set it apart. I loved the costumes, the names of both the teams (Bliss is a Hurl Scout) and the girls (such as Dinah Might and Malice in Wonderland). As with Dairy Queen (with roller derby instead of football) it was great to see Bliss becoming skilled at something she really loved doing. I also really liked the rollergirls in general - they're tough and cool but they also really cared about and looked after Bliss and each other.
A lot of the themes are very common in YA lit - first love, heartbreak, problems with parents and friends - but I really enjoyed watching Bliss deal with them all and come out a rockin' skater girl with newfound confidence in herself.