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Title: Derby Girl
Author: Shauna Cross
Number of Pages: 234 pages
Book Number/Goal: 62/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Sixteen-year-old Bliss hates her smalltown life, especially the part where her mom is trying to live out her dreams of becoming a beauty queen through Bliss. Then one day she sees a poster for a roller derby match and the next thing she knows she's trying out for the team.

I really enjoyed this book. It's written in that first-person chatty style that is all the rage with YA and chicklit these days, but despite being a bit exposition-heavy in the early chapters (having read more in these genres lately, I have come to dread the "let me pause the story so I can give you my entire history" bit that usually comes in chapter two), I really enjoyed the narrator's voice and liked Bliss a lot.

The story is cute and female friendship is front and center. While there is the stereotypical mean girls that kind of made me roll my eyes at how cliched they were (one at school and one on the opposing roller derby team), it's balanced out by the fact that there are a ton of supportive (female) friends, so it doesn't come off as "girls are bitches" like so many stories do. There's a romance subplot, but it takes a backseat to friendships, too.

The one thing I really disliked about the book was how white it was. Aside from Bliss's best friend and possibly one of the roller derby girls whose derby nickname is Juana, everyone is white. And this takes place in Texas! But aside from that one girl, there weren't even any incidental characters with Spanish names. And her best friend Pash is mentioned as being Arab-American, but that's all we get. No actual country to give her any sort of specific heritage. It's just like Arabs are a big mob who come from Arabvania or something. And aside from the initial introduction (where she's mentioned as having exotic good looks, gag) and one or two mentions of kids at school being racist, she might as well have been white.

Still, it was really cute and I can't wait to see Whip It. I also really, really want to write and read fic for this fandom, especially Malice/Bliss.


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