Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is a classic example of the way in which literature reflects current societal trends, OR attempts to direct them, and here’s why.
Jamieson creates for us a feisty figure in the form of Astrid (aka Roller Girl, aka Asteroid) and through the medium of the ever-changing graphic novel forum, gives us her angsty tween tale. Astrid’s best friend is Nicole and the two do everything together. That is, until Astrid is exposed to the oft maniacal and crazy tough world of the Roller Girls. Off they go to a roller derby where Astrid picks up a fan fetish for Rainbow Bite and the fast-paced sport. To much amusement she fails to impress with her skating skills, yet still signs up for Junior Roller Derby camp, thinking that of course Nicole will be by her side. And this is where the tale of Astrid and Nicole takes a turn. Nicole is not a Roller Girl. In fact, you could say that she is polar opposite to Astrid whose tough, rough diamond sentimentalities cannot keep up with Nicole’s softer more boy-interested approach to life. Nicole is a dancer not a skater, and for Astrid, Nicole’s world is far from her own. So, can Astrid ever become a success and come to terms with hers and Nicole’s fundamental differences? Can Astrid ever learn to take a step back and reflect upon what friendship means to her?
Without revealing more, Jamieson delivers to tweens and teens a story that embraces the difficulties of growing up. Who are we without the significant others in our lives? And, can we find ourselves by ourselves? Astrid’s character is not flawless, nor is she the tough girl that she would believe herself to be. But Jamieson also shows that Nicole is just as flawed and yet also tougher than first appearances would dictate. And that is where literature reflects and / or directs. Jamieson makes it okay for Astrid-the-tough to have feelings, and she also makes it okay for Nicole to be feminine and resilient. The thing is that both girls have substance and worth beyond the boxes of their cliched core selves.
So, thank you Victoria Jamieson for creating a colorfully and artfully illustrated graphic novel that I can happily pass out to all the young women I know and know that they will get a message; and that message will tell them that whether you wear pink or whether you wear black, you are still a bad-ass!
Happy reading readers!