Falling Hard

( 2 )


When Annie moves from London to a small town in the midwest, she struggles to fit in. She gets off to a bad start when she makes an enemy of her school's queen bee, Kelsey. But she discovers a new passion, the exciting sport of roller derby, and makes friends with the cool and quirky girls on her team, the Liberty Belles. She also meets Jesse, the friendly boy who works at the roller rink, and Tyler, a cute, all-American sports star.
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Falling Hard

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When Annie moves from London to a small town in the midwest, she struggles to fit in. She gets off to a bad start when she makes an enemy of her school's queen bee, Kelsey. But she discovers a new passion, the exciting sport of roller derby, and makes friends with the cool and quirky girls on her team, the Liberty Belles. She also meets Jesse, the friendly boy who works at the roller rink, and Tyler, a cute, all-American sports star.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Stephanie R. Pearmain
Following her parents’ separation, Annie moves from London to a small town in the US with her dad. He is following his dream of opening up a café and Annie is learning about life in the Midwest. Her new friend Lexi takes her to a roller derby game and she is instantly taken with the sport and signs up for a training course. She also tries out for cheer and finds the two experiences vastly different. Kelsey, the captain of the cheer squad dislikes Annie from the beginning and when Annie chooses roller derby over cheer Kelsey let’s her know that “nobody turns down an offer to cheer.” Annie struggles as the newbie on roller skates as well but finds the other derby girls are a supportive team. By the end, Annie has led her team to success and her dad’s café has had its grand opening. Annie still has a crush on Tyler, the hottest guy in the school—who Kelsey has her eye on too. This is the first book in the Roller Girls Series and the end leaves a lot of possibilities for continued fun and potential romance in the next book (and of course some battles with Kelsey). The juxtaposition of cheer and roller derby is interesting and refreshing as is the perspective of moving to a Midwestern town from the UK. It allows room for Annie to go against the grain in a new way. Reviewer: Stephanie R. Pearmain; Ages 12 to 16.
Kirkus Reviews
Roller derby and cheerleading are even farther apart than London and Liberty Heights, Ill. After the end of her parents' marriage, Annie decides to join her father in the United States. If all she had to do in the States was banter with her goofy dad while he sets up an English-style bakery/cafe, she'd be golden. The popular girls instantly hate her, and learning American high school slang is rough (although, oddly, the narration from Annie's point of view mostly uses American rather than U.K. English). Her fabulous neighbor Lexie is an artist, an easy friend with an individual sense of style who represents a bright spot. But Annie also wants to join the cheerleading squad, and the social rules around high school popularity are more complicated than she expects. Can she stay friends with Lexie and be a cheerleader at the same time? More importantly, can she cheerlead while being a roller girl? For Annie's discovered roller derby, and its joyful aesthetic fits in well with her own athleticism and love of punk music. The characters are lightly sketched, from the stereotypical mean cheerleaders to the friendly but undifferentiated skaters; this slim volume replaces character development with action-packed training montages. This fun romp of a girls' sports story would make a highly watchable flick (and arguably already has, given its resemblance to the 2009 film Whip It). (Fiction. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781623700232
  • Publisher: Capstone Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 255
  • Sales rank: 1,060,237
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Megan Sparks is the author of the Roller Girls series. The first two books in the series, Falling Hard and Hell's Belles, were published by Capstone Young Readers in 2013. Kirkus Reviews called Falling Hard a "fun romp of a girls' sports story."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 18, 2013

    Annie has a choice to make: become a  fearless roller girl, or j

    Annie has a choice to make: become a  fearless roller girl, or join become a British All-American cheerleader with the head cheerleader already marking you on her list.

    After growing up in London, Annie relocates to the Midwest to live with her American father after her parents separated; leaving her life behind and starting high school as both a freshman and a foreigner. Wanting to please her dad, she tries out for the cheer-leading team, even though the captain, Miss Popular Kelsey, has it out for her.  But there is another sport that catches her eye, roller derby. After watching one game, with her new best friend, Annie is hooked. But, what about cheer-leading? And, the hot soccer player Tyler, perfect All-American boy. Can Annie juggle everything?

    I read this book in a day. I couldn't put it down. I laughed, a lot. It isn't a book that is going to be a classic, or make it on any prestigious lists; I think that's why I enjoyed it. It is such a light-hearted gem not to be missed. I liked Annie a lot, but it was her best friend I enjoyed maybe a little bit more. She just had such a great sense of humor. Called cheer-leading, cheer-weeding. She was one of those characters that was someone I would like to have in my corner. I could pass on oogling over Tyler, but there was also Jesse, who works at the roller rink and could have potential with Annie if she gets over the All-American Soccer boy crush. I don't think dating an athlete is all that in regards to having a social life, but Annie thinks so. It was kind of annoying. But, really one of the only flaws in the book.

    The writing was nothing fancy; which worked. The story wasn't convoluted; it was very suitable for the age group the book is geared towards. Although I am no longer in that intended age group, I liked how I didn't have to think while reading it. The flow was good. The dialogue was decent. It all meshed well. There is definitely a positive message in this book. Annie is a good role model; she is strong, speaks up for herself, a good friend, and makes good decisions (on what, you'll have to guess. Is it roller derby or cheer-weeding?)  I am looking forward to reading the second book. It was just too fun to not want to continue the series. I am a little biased though, because I do like the roller derby. I loved the movie adaptation of Whip It starring Ellen Page (I haven't read the book yet) that is very similar to this novel. Both girls are discovering themselves and how they fit in where they are living. Many girls in high school can relate to this book. The roller derby choice isn't brought in for the violence factor. It is tied in a great, encouraging way. 

    I would recommend this book if you are looking for some light reading material. It is a great, one to two sitting read. You aren't dedicating too much of your time. It isn't a heavy commitment. And funny. Endearing. Leaves you with a smile. Give this little gem a try. You won't regret it. 

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Annie makes the move from London to the America with her father

    Annie makes the move from London to the America with her father so that she can be with him when he opens a London inspired cafe. She not only has to learn the terminology that the Americans use but also figure out where her niche is with the kids at school. The story follows Annie as she decides whether she wants to be popular and thus gain the attention of the school’s soccer star, Tyler by joining the cheerleading squad or join the roller derby team where the group of girls are more welcoming to her.

    This book is great for a younger teen crowd. There isn’t a lot of conflict that takes place. Yeah you have the mean popular cheerleader but that’s about it. The two potential love interests aren’t really love interests, just two cute guys who are in the story. There’s even a potential love interest for her father but again, that’s left with a big question mark. There were just a lot of things that weren’t really concluded by the end of the book. It sort of felt like a feel good book that ran out of pages before the ending.

    It was a bit below my reading level but for young teens, I think it would be great. No fighting, illegal activity and very minimal swearing. I liked that it revolved around roller derby which is something that I’ve heard of but am not really familiar with. So the author sort of talks you through the logistics of it as Annie learns the ropes. It was a good story about setting your mind to something and succeeding.

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