“A searing portrait of self-discovery; soulful and captivating.” —Kirkus Reviews
Whip It meets We Are Okay in this vibrant coming-of-age story about a teen girl navigating first love, identity, and grief as she immerses herself in the colorful, brutal, beautiful world of roller derby—from the acclaimed author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens.
To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart.
So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.
The deeper Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby, though, the more she realizes it’s not the simple physical pain-fest she was hoping for. Her rough-and-tumble teammates and their fans push her limits in ways she never imagined, bringing Daya to big truths about love, loss, strength, and healing.
Eighteen-year-old Daya Wijesinghe is tough, just like her boxer father taught her to be. When her parents, both Sri Lankan immigrants, die in a car crash that she survives, that toughness becomes a shield as she bruises herself to cope with her grief. A year and a half after the accident, she learns about roller derby seemingly the perfect way to get some new bruises. But skating with the Killa Honeys is appealing in ways she never expected, and Daya begins to learn that there's strength and healing to be found in softness if only she can overcome her fear of opening up. Boteju (Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens) sensitively handles Daya's post-accident trauma, struggles with intimacy, and growing understanding of her own sexuality. Characterization is sometimes inconsistent (one character chastises Daya for being needlessly confrontational in one scene, then goads her into being so in another), but an infectious enthusiasm for roller derby and Daya's persuasive journey to self-knowledge and acceptance aided by a spirited, intersectionally inclusive cast provide fun and emotional resonance in equal measure. Includes an overview of the sport. Ages 14 up.