Falling Hard

Megan Sparks. Capstone, $12.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62370-023-2
The first book in the Roller Girls series introduces 14-year-old Annie, who decides to leave her workaholic mother in London and move with her father to her grandparents' old house in Liberty Heights, Ill. Her "American culture crash course" begins immediately when she has a nasty run-in with popular cheerleading captain Kelsey and strikes up a friendship with her alternative, artistic neighbor Lexie. In addition to forming new friendships and navigating small-town American life, Annie is on the lookout for an athletic outlet: she has outgrown gymnastics, literally. A desire to prove herself to Kelsey, as well as attention from a cute soccer player, leads Annie to cheerleading. But when Lexie and her skater friends bring Annie to roller derby, she is drawn to the edgy, high-octane sport. Sparks's straightforward writing can be prim, and the significance of Annie's athletic conflict feels somewhat overinflated ("She'd have to choose. But which one? The one she was better at, or the one she liked better?"), but subtle wisdom about establishing one's identity within a new context finds its way into the novel's pivotal moments. Ages 12–14. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
Genre: Children's
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