cover image Bruised


Tanya Boteju. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5502-3

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. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret. (Mar.)