From the Publisher
“The novel shines in describing the dashing world of roller derby, where the players are hot and have nasty names like Dinah Might, Eva Destruction and Princess Slaya. [Shauna Cross shows] naked enthusiasm for the edgy, underground sport.” Publishers Weekly
“This first-time author combines roller-skating and coming-of-age with a sardonic heroine to create an enjoyable, quick read. Whether Bliss is battling menacing derby mavens or discovering the perils of lying to parents, she is quirky and likeable despite her prickly exterior. . . . Fans of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson books will be pleased with this American counterpart.” Voice of Youth Advocates
“Sharp humor dominates this entertaining debut from Cross, who weaves her own experience with roller derby into the fun and traumas of a small-town girl experiencing major rebellion. . . . plenty of laughs and adolescent insights . . . exuberant and insightful.” Kirkus Reviews
“Roller derby . . . is conveyed with sexy, enthusiastic energy that injects the whole novel with a warm and authentic vibe.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Debut novelist Cross, a screenwriter and former roller derby girl, retreads well-worn YA themes as a path to a roller-derby plot line. A main character feeling too cool for school and her plebeian town? Check. Two parents who just don't understand? Check. A budding romance that leaves a best friend left in the dust? Check. Here, the teen angst is embodied in 16-year-old Bliss Cavendar, a blue-haired, Chuck Taylor-wearing indie rebel living in a tiny Texas town of country music-loving beauty-pageant fans. Yearning to escape the suffocating boredom, Bliss and her best friend, Pash Amini, crash a roller derby event in nearby Austin. The girls are entranced by the glammed-up skaters in heavy makeup and fishnet stockings who shove and elbow their way around a track. Bliss soon lies about her age, becomes a derby girl, meets a cute boy and learns several unsurprising life lessons. Despite being formulaic, the novel shines in describing the dashing world of roller derby, where the players are hot and have nasty names like Dinah Might, Eva Destruction and Princess Slaya. When Bliss describes watching "girls dive on the track, leap over one another, pile on the infield for brawls, fly over the rails into the crowd (more than once!)... and yet, you can tell they're having the time of their lives," her naked enthusiasm for the edgy, underground sport injects some energy into an otherwise labored tale. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Angelica Delgado
Blue-haired Bliss Cavendar is a rebel stuck in tiny Bodeen, Texas. Her high school life and dismal job at the local barbeque pit, the Oink Joint, whose showcase is the large porcine statue outside the front door, threaten to suck the soul from her body. Her mother has visions of Bliss sheathed in a billowy pageant dress accepting a Miss Bluebonnet crown, an aspiration over which Bliss and her mother clash. The only shining light is her sister-in-sarcasm and best pal, Pash. That is until Bliss ventures into the cosmopolitan town of Austin and sees that the local roller derby team will hold auditions for a coveted spot on the Hurl Scouts. Bliss digs out her roller skates from under her bed, lies about her age, dons the moniker Babe Ruthless, and rolls into adventure. Along the way, she meets a sexy boy musician, upsets her friendship with Pash, and learns something about her mother and herself in the process. This first-time author combines roller-skating and coming-of-age with a sardonic heroine to create an enjoyable, quick read. Whether Bliss is battling menacing derby mavens or discovering the perils of lying to parents, she is quirky and likeable despite her prickly exterior. A minor quibble is Cross's sometimes travel-guidebook approach to Austin. Bliss's cutting sarcastic remarks and self-absorption might irritate some, but others will enjoy the conversational tone and short chapters. Cross handles the lone sex scene tastefully. Fans of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson books will be pleased with this American counterpart.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up
Bliss Cavendar, 16, is a misfit. Her blue hair sticks out among all of the All-American look-alikes at her Bodeen, TX, high school. She doesn't fit in with her family, either. Her mother insists that she enter the Miss Bluebonnet beauty pageant but Bliss would rather be listening to punk rock. In desperation, she sneaks out at night to nearby Austin, joins a roller-derby league, and finds an exciting, older boyfriend. She lies to derby officials about her age, and to her parents about where she is for every practice and competition. In the end, her antics are exposed but her rebellion turns out to be just what was needed to make her mother accept her. This novel fails to explain what roller derby is, besides a bunch of girls on skates pushing into each other. Bliss is unlikable and at times obnoxious, especially during her encounters with her best friend. The choppy narration portrays teenagers as having a cavalier attitude about lying, stealing, drinking, and sex, and the author tries to win readers over with clever asides and the occasional curse word. It doesn't work.
Julianna M. HeltCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
All I have to do is get around the track five times. I can do this.
I line up, the whistle blows, and I immediately stumble as I take off. I keep skating, fighting my wobbles, and get around the track one time with relative ease (yes!). But then something clicks on the second lap. I lean low into the track, push as hard as I can and—bingo!—I go flying out of the turn at speeds the other girls haven’t even touched. For a second, it feels like I might not be able to control the speed, but I bend my knees lower, and manage to go even faster. From there on, the track is mine, I attack it with all I have . . .
At practice, the humiliation factor decreases as my skating improves. Even though I’m covered in bruises aka “derby kisses” I feel surprisingly proud of what I’m learning to do (it’s so weird; I’m kind of like a jock). I even sneak out late at night to covertly practice my T-stops and power slides in the driveway, determined to catch up to the other girls.
I love the way the wind whips through my hair as I fly through the turns, sitting low, leaning into the track for maximum speed. My life feels like it has been so slow for so long, it’s fun to finally be going fast.