Roller derby and cheerleading are even farther apart than London and Liberty Heights, Ill.
After the end of her parents’ marriage, Annie decides to join her father in the United States. If all she had to do in the States was banter with her goofy dad while he sets up an English-style bakery/cafe, she’d be golden. The popular girls instantly hate her, and learning American high school slang is rough (although, oddly, the narration from Annie’s point of view mostly uses American rather than U.K. English). Her fabulous neighbor Lexie is an artist, an easy friend with an individual sense of style who represents a bright spot. But Annie also wants to join the cheerleading squad, and the social rules around high school popularity are more complicated than she expects. Can she stay friends with Lexie and be a cheerleader at the same time? More importantly, can she cheerlead while being a roller girl? For Annie’s discovered roller derby, and its joyful aesthetic fits in well with her own athleticism and love of punk music. The characters are lightly sketched, from the stereotypical mean cheerleaders to the friendly but undifferentiated skaters; this slim volume replaces character development with action-packed training montages.
This fun romp of a girls’ sports story would make a highly watchable flick (and arguably already has, given its resemblance to the 2009 film Whip It). (Fiction. 11-13)