A tenement girl from the Bronx skates her way to become the queen of the roller derby.
A gawky misfit, Lottie Karla Zimmerman is constantly targeted by local bullies–but when the boys let her play stickball with them, she hits the winning home run, proving her athletic strength. When she first sees the roller derby on television, she experiences an inspiring surge of recognition. In 1951, the sport is just beginning to gain widespread popularity and Lottie and her friends Rebecca and Elsie Mae, who also yearn for a ticket out of their life in the Bronx, jump at the chance when they hear that the derby is looking for new skaters. Lottie’s determination outpaces her skill at first, but she eventually wins a spot on a roller derby team barnstorming across the country. She and the other newcomers to the team are scorned by the brash older skaters they had grown to idolize from watching them on TV. Lottie has always thought herself awkward and ugly, and she fears that her looks will get her sent back home. Eve Belzak, the buxom, vindictive bully on the team, harasses Lottie relentlessly. As she fights for respect both on and off the track, Lottie helps turn the roller derby into a national phenomenon, and grows into the woman she never thought she could be. Though the prose is a bit wobbly at times, the novel vividly captures the rise of this exciting new sport, and the importance it held for girls like Lottie–a rare ticket out of poverty and into fame and recognition, as well as a means to self-recognition as women, as athletes and as stars who would influence generations of girls to come.
A heartfelt, engaging ride.