Whip It

Whip It

4.2 57
by Shauna Cross

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Skirts, Skates,&Scrapes!
All the old school skills with a new punk rock attitude
Come see The Lone Star Derby Girls
Austin's All-Girl Roller Derby League
The Holy Rollers vs. The Fight Crew
Halftime Concert by the Chimney Sweeps
This ain't no cheerleading clinic, y'all!

Meet Bliss Cavendar, an indie-rock-loving misfit stuck in the tiny


Skirts, Skates,&Scrapes!
All the old school skills with a new punk rock attitude
Come see The Lone Star Derby Girls
Austin's All-Girl Roller Derby League
The Holy Rollers vs. The Fight Crew
Halftime Concert by the Chimney Sweeps
This ain't no cheerleading clinic, y'all!

Meet Bliss Cavendar, an indie-rock-loving misfit stuck in the tiny town of Bodeen, Texas. Her pageant-addicted mother expects her to compete for the coveted Miss Bluebonnet crown, but Bliss would rather feast on roaches than be subjected to such rhinestone tyranny.
Bliss's escape? Roller Derby.
When she discovers a league in nearby Austin, Bliss embarks on an epic journey full of hilarious tattooed girls, delicious boys in bands, and a few not-so-awesome realities even the most hard-core derby chick has to learn.

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Whip It

By Shauna Cross


Copyright © 2007 Shauna Cross
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-7756-2


The Not-So-Sweet Life

I don't know how it happened or what sort of backroom deal went down, but apparently I'm living in a small Texas town with two culturally clueless impostors for legal guardians, when I just know my real parents are out there somewhere. They're probably these supercool artist types with a loft in New York. Or maybe they're in San Francisco. That would work too. I'd take San Fran over this cow-patty town any day.

Dear Potentially Cool Parental Folk,

If you suddenly realize you're missing one charmingly sarcastic 16-year-old daughter, send a plane ticket. I'm ready to come home.


Your Forgiving Offspring

P.S. If you aren't my real parents and you happen to find this note (and you are hip and childless), I urge you to consider the wonderful world of adoption.

I wrote that on a note card last spring when I was forced to participate in an oh-so-lame balloon release at school (don't ask). So far, I've had exactly zero responses, but I'm keepin' hope alive.

Hope is pretty much the only way to survive Bodeen, Texas. Unless, of course, you're a football-throwing, truck-worshipping, country-music-listening hick. Then, naturally, Bodeen is your soul mate of a town. Yay, you.

But if you happen to be an indie-rock-loving, thrift-store-prowling, homemade-T-shirt-wearing, blue-hair-dying misfit girl who thinks life is a '60s movie, then Bodeen can be, and often is, one giant ball of suck.

Ah, beautiful Bodeen, home of the unironic mullet and the "world-famous" Bluebonnet ice cream factory. The frozen yum-yums are produced locally, and people travel far and wide just to get a glimpse of the ice cream makin' in action. Honestly, the process is about as riveting as golf on Saturday TV, but the tourists ooh and ahh like it's a freakin' religious experience, like the rocky road they're munching on isn't the exact same crap they can buy by the gallon at their local Piggly Wiggly.

By the way, when I say tourists, I don't mean to imply Bodeen is a mecca for world travelers or anyone remotely interesting, i.e., crushworthy boys. The whole ice-cream-factory-as-vacation-destination thing doesn't really speak to that demographic. Believe me, I have done my research on this one. I have spent countless hours watching tour bus after tour bus unload, desperately hoping for a glimpse of male cuteness among the fat-ass, fanny-pack parade — it never happens. You will see Jesus skateboarding the streets of Bodeen before a hot guy ever wanders across the county line.

And if that isn't enough, Bodeen has somehow become synonymous with "romantic getaway for two," which means other people's parents drag their sad relationships out here for a little weekend "rekindling." They check into one of our charming bed and breakfasts and get busy doing whatever it is parent folk do when surrounded by grandma wallpaper, doily curtains, and the scent of fresh-baked muffins (cringe factor high!).

Every Friday night, when these couples descend on my little town, I think, Somewhere scattered across Texas are a bunch of teenage boys whose parents left them alone for the weekend. And I think there must be one boy, one witty, music-obsessed cutie, who could really appreciate a girl with blue hair and an impressive CD collection ... and I think, Why aren't I with him? I SHOULD BE THERE WHILE HIS PARENTS ARE HERE.

It hurts. It really does.


Little House on the Scary

So, you might as well know my name is Bliss Cavendar. God, just saying it out loud makes me want to hurl. The Bliss part is particularly cruel, considering I haven't experienced any (unless you count my banana Laffy Taffy obsession — but that only takes a girl so far). Obviously, my nutso mother was expecting a tap-dancing ray of sunshine when she was shopping for baby names. Instead, she got me. Surprise. No tap dancing, no sunshine.

To make matters worse, Brooke (my alleged real mother) suffers from a rare but raging illness: addiction to beauty pageants. Tiara-ism, I like to call it. Apparently Brooke was a major hottie back in her day, winning a slew of titles, crowns, and sashes, including the local end-all, be-all crown, Miss Bluebonnet. My grandmother and great-grandmother were also Miss Bluebonnets.

Unfortunately for Brooke, Miss Bluebonnet wasn't enough. She hungered for, but never quite made it to, the pageant big leagues, a fact that has fueled her epic, Lord of the Rings style quest to ensure that her child wins the ultimate crown. Yep, Brooke decided that if she couldn't be a Miss America herself, she would be the proud mother of a Miss America. That's where I come in, victim #1.

I spent my formative years participating in one rhinestone torture-a-thon after another (I was so naive then). Brooke would tease my stringy hair skyscraper high and spackle on so much makeup that, I swear to God, you could see it on satellite photos from space. I never won anything more than "Certificate of Participation," which is pageant-speak for "big-ass loser."

But that didn't stop Brooke, who does not let little things like reality get in her way when she is doggedly pursuing a goal. She hooked me up with a coach, and on my thirteenth birthday, I debuted a new talent routine that was supposed to propel me to the title of "Little Miss Howdy-Roo" in the nearby town of Dripping Springs.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Y'all give a big Texas welcome to Bliss Cavendar, baton-twirling sensation!

You have to believe me when I tell you I gave that damn baton everything I had. I twirled, whirled, and step-ball-changed like my life depended on it. But the hairspray made me dizzy, and somewhere in the middle of my showstopping finale, the choreography gods took a smoke break and left me hangin'. The baton ricocheted off my cartwheeling foot, sailed into the audience, and coldcocked judge Darla Schaffer right upside the head. Well, you can't say it wasn't a showstopper. It took Mrs. Schaffer five minutes to regain consciousness.

On the rainy drive home, as I clutched yet another "Certificate of Participation," Mom kept saying, "It's okay, sugar. We just gotta nail that finale and we're golden. You don't get to be Miss America by giving up, you know." But I did know, and I was over it. Two weeks later, I launched a Gandhi-inspired hunger strike and finally secured freedom from my mother's pageant cult. Sort of.

She still expects me to compete in Miss Bluebonnet in December — a painful fact I try to keep buried way, way in the back of my mind. I consider it the final stop on my long and completely unsuccessful pageant train ride.

Meanwhile, Mom turned her Miss America sights on my little sister, Shania (another bad but very pageant-friendly name), who just turned ... drumroll please ... four years old. I call my angelic little sis Sweet Pea because I find her Brooke-given name too repugnant to utter out loud. Plus, when Sweet Pea grows up and looks back on her childhood, I want her to know I was fighting the good fight on her behalf.

The strange thing about Sweet Pea, the four-year-old pageant queen, is that she really seems to love competing. She never cries or threatens to run away when Brooke teases her hair. And, get this, the kid actually squeals with delight when she gets to wear that abominable piece of bedazzled cotton candy pretending to be a dress. Maybe that's why she always wins. She's Brooke's pageant dream come true.

Sometimes I feel guilty, like I should be protecting Sweet Pea from my mom's cult (being a survivor, and all). But, at the same time, I'm grateful because my little sis brings home the trophy bacon like I never could, which keeps Brooke off my back. And my motto is, the less Brooke in my life, the better.

Of course this JC Penney family portrait wouldn't be complete without mentioning my pa, Earl Cavendar. Here's all you need to know about good ol' Earl. The Cliffs Notes if you will. He owns Longhorn Furniture (home of the world's ugliest sofas), says maybe three words a day, and usually falls asleep in his maroon velour ("melour") La-Z-Boy after the football report. Earl knows he's no match for the Texas Twister he married and has adopted a cunning survival tactic: He does exactly what he's told and stays the hell out of Brooke's way.

Oh, and here's a fun fact. I recently discovered that, contrary to official family records, Earl and Brooke's actual wedding date is only five months before my birthday. Surprise, surprise. Ain't true love grand?


The Pash Amini Show

Despite the staggering odds against me, I have managed to find the best friend a small-town weirdo girl like me could ever hope for: the one, the only, Pash Amini. Last year, when I was dying from boredom (I'm talkin' ICU — it did not look good), Pash moved to town and nursed me back to social health.

She wasn't in the school forty-five minutes before she hunted me down at my locker. She fearlessly approached, tossing all new-girl-in-school rules blithely to the side.

"Hey," she said, "my name's Pash, as in passion."

I took one look at her '50s pencil skirt and homemade skull earrings while she silently graded my tuxedo-striped Dickies and '70s "Hopscotch for Jesus" T-shirt. It was best friend love at first sight.

Not only is she hilarious and crazy smart (straight As, honors everything), but Pash is the most beautiful Arab-American bombshell this side of the Pecos River. The only Arab-American bombshell, she would remind me. Naturally, Pash's exotic gorgeousness has yet to receive the props it deserves from the knuckle-dragging idiots at Bodeen High. I know her pain. Not that there are any lads worth swooning over, but it would be nice to be admired. Secretly admired, even.

It's the height of summer and a thousand and two degrees in the blistering August heat, just a friendly reminder that Bodeen, Texas, really is hell. Pash and I wander through town enjoying our last half hour of freedom before we clock in at The Job So Awful We Dare Not Speak Its Name (TJSAWDNSIN).

* * *

Okay, I'm going to explain this once and once only. Then, you should swallow this piece of paper because I was never here. Pash and I work at the Oink Joint, a barbecue restaurant "famous" (i.e., not famous at all) for the giant, two-story pig sculpture that sits in the parking lot, the most tourist-trappy of tourist traps.

TJSAWDNSIN is so awful that I was holding out for a job at Wal-Mart before I took it. It's the place you go when no one else will have you. Naturally, Pash and I were shoo-ins.

* * *

We share a double-dip Bluebonnet waffle cone of cookies and cream (me) and mint chocolate chip (her), sword fighting with our plastic spoons. Now, as much as I detest the tacky tourist trade that has sprung up around the Bluebonnet factory, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that their ice cream is my most beloved food group. Those Bodeen dairy cows have got some serious skill.

I could, however, do without the Bluebonnet ads that dot the town landscape. You can't walk two blocks without having a billboard shoved in your face, and not just any billboard. The Bluebonnet billboards are a cultural phenom unto themselves. They always feature the reigning Miss Bluebonnet in a cleavage-baring milkmaid costume, smiling as she licks a glistening ice cream cone. Sexy, yet wholesome (so as not to cast doubt on Miss Bluebonnet's chastity, this being a Christian community, and all).

Now, you-know-who cannot pass a billboard without sighing dramatically, "That's your destiny, Bliss," which only happens about ... thirty-five times a day. Give or take.

The current competition for the Miss Bluebonnet crown is Corbi Booth, varsity cheerleader and a real chipmunk of a girl. Frankly, I'd just hand her the crown today if it wouldn't send Brooke into a tailspin. Corbi and I were best friends (BFF!) a million years ago, but when I discovered real music and she devoted her life to the pursuit of the perfect lip gloss, it was time to go our separate ways.

Now, you know and I know, and everyone in the whole free world knows, that come December Corbi will get the crown and I'll fade into pageant obscurity, but there's a little hitch. Corbi's mom, Val, a poster woman for all things plastic, still sees me as stiff competition because of my impressive Miss Bluebonnet lineage. Oh, and the fact that my mom kicked her ass the year she won.

So, no matter how much of a dark horse I seem — c'mon, a girl with blue hair? — I'm persona non grata on Corbi's bitch-o-meter.

What Corbi lacks in intelligence she makes up for in catty gossip and tiny skirts. She also happens to be the longtime girlfriend of Bodeen High's star quarterback, Colby Miller. Colby and Corbi — awwww, isn't that so cute? (Answer: not cute at all!)

The whole town is under some sort of twisted assumption that this cliché masquerading as a sweeping high school romance is Bodeen's answer to a Hollywood couple. They can't get enough of the adorable twosome.

But Pash and I have had more than our fill, thankyouverymuch. We can't even enjoy our ice cream without the dynamic duo suddenly appearing out of nowhere in Colby's my-dad-bought-me-this-ginormous-pickuptruck-because-I-am-a-football-god mobile with his future Miss Bluebonnet nestled at his side as "Brooks & Dumb" blares out the windows (the cherry on this little torture sundae).

And what is it with teenagers who have perfect zitfree skin right in the middle of what is supposed to be the zittiest time in their lives? It is beyond unfair. Surely there will be some payback later in life for that ... or there is no justice.

The lovebirds stop at a red light, and Colby glances at us — at me, actually. His face contorts with contempt and confusion, like, How the hell are you even allowed to exist? Corbi shudders and clutches Colby's steroid-inflated biceps, as if to say, Get me out of here before their weirdness totally rubs off on me! (Like I'm not the girl whose bed she used to pee in when she spent the night at my house — how dare she judge me?)

The second the light turns green, Colby and Corbi speed away like terrified teen lovers fleeing a pack of hungry zombies in a trashy horror flick. I never knew I was so scary. I almost take it as a compliment.

Pash and I are silent as the hot Tejas air hangs between us. We are both thinking the same depressing thought, so there's no point in actually saying it out loud. How come those idiots can find love when we have to suffer a romance drought? But Pash can't keep her mouth shut for long. It's physically impossible, medically documented.

"Bliss, I know my New Year's resolution was not to obsess, but if I don't get some serious boy-on-Pash action stat, I'm gonna explode," she says.

"Then people really will think you're a terrorist," I offer, and Pash cracks up. Yes, racism is alive and well in Bodeen, and my girl has suffered her share of slurs and suspicious stares, so we mock the hillbillies any chance we get. Dark humor rules.


Le Joint d'Oink

I could go on and on about the horror of facing the public in a heinous gingham smock, the constant stench of barbecue in my hair, and the soul-sucking task of timing unhealthy people as they try to eat the Squealer Sandwich (ten pounds of pulled pork) in ten minutes so that they can win a free T-shirt and have their picture placed on the "Squeal of Fame."

But really, it's not so bad as long as Pash and I have the same schedule.

We amuse ourselves by constantly rebelling against the Oink Joint system. It also helps that Dwayne "Bird-man" Johnston is totally in love with both of us. Not that that's flattering in any way, shape, or form. Trust me. Bird-man is all geek, all the time, and not of the chic variety. Although he's kind of been on a power trip since they officially promoted him to manager.

Like today. Pash and I were up to our old survival tricks, taking some brilliantly funny pictures (if I do say so myself), then covertly posting them on the "Squeal of Fame" billboard among all the yellowed snapshots of fat tourists holding up clean plates. Bird-man comes flying from across the restaurant waving his skinny arms.


Excerpted from Whip It by Shauna Cross. Copyright © 2007 Shauna Cross. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Shauna Cross's Whip It was named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and Quick Pick for Young Adults, a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. It is now a major motion picture directed by Drew Barrymore. Cross is a screenwriter and a member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls roller derby league. She skates under the name "Maggie Mayhem." She grew up in Austin, Texas, and now lives in Los Angeles.

Shauna Cross is the author of Derby Girl, named an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and Quick Pick for Young Adults, a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. It is now a major motion picture, Whip It, directed by Drew Barrymore. Cross is a screenwriter and a member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls roller derby league. She skates under the name “Maggie Mayhem.” She grew up in Austin, Texas, and now lives in Los Angeles.

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Whip It 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I watched the movie "Whip It!" and love it. It made me want to roller derby and kiss some butt. When I found out this movie was based off a book, I had to read it. It's perfect for older middle school and high school girls, which is why it's young adult book. I teach sixth grade, so I spend most of my time reading YA books. The book follows 16 year old Bliss (don't ya just love that name) while she tries to find herself and a place where is fits in while leaving in a town where she didn't fit the mold. Her family doesn't get her nor does most of the town save for Pash (her best friend). Here enter roller derby, and Bliss is not the same ever again. If you like a fun read about a girl finding herself this is it.
spanish-lullaby More than 1 year ago
for me this was just an okay book. one thing i will say is that it is addictive. once you start reading it you won't be able to stop. the movie is much better.fun characters and roller derby sounds like a lot of fun. the ending leaves you satisfied.
Sara_Case More than 1 year ago
I loved it, the main character is the perfect mix of quirky and cool!
Ashley_Belletristic_Books More than 1 year ago
This review was originally posted on my blog Belletristic Books and is for Derby Girl by Shauna Cross. The book's title was changed after the film came out.  When I was in high school, I saw the film Whip It and quite enjoyed it since it’s cute, comical, and has really great acting from Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, and Kristen Wiig. At the time of seeing it, I had no idea that it was based on a book! So why did I choose to pick that book up years after viewing the movie? Well, I watched an interview featuring Victoria Jamieson as she discussed her latest book, Roller Girl. This book caught my interest immediately since it’s a full color graphic novel about a 12-year-old girl who goes to a roller derby bout and then decides to sign up for derby camp, which sounds totally awesome! During the interview, Jamieson talks about how Derby Girl got her into roller derby and that’s why she decided to write her own graphic novel about it. Feel free to check out that interview here!   Despite my thinking that I’d love this book since I believed Whip It was super cool and I’m eagerly awaiting Roller Girl, Derby Girl just didn’t entertain me as much as the film version of it did. That was surprising to me since the majority of the time a book is usually better than the film version of it, in my opinion. However, the book appeared to be a flatter form of the movie. Perhaps I should’ve read the book before seeing the film and I would’ve felt differently about this. But I thought that the characters seemed more developed in the movie. Although I did think Bliss was interesting and unique in both the book and film, she seemed a bit whiny and self-centered in Derby Girl. Weirdly enough, the book has a very neat and happy ending, which didn’t seem realistic seeing as how Bliss has just gotten her heart broken by the boy she’s been seeing.   I very much think that the main reason why I wasn’t particularly fond of this book was because I saw the movie first. Derby Girl didn’t feel especially authentic to me and that’s why I could only give it 2 of 5 stars. The plot of the book and film are super similar yet I think that the movie achieved badass girl-power status while the book didn’t live up to my expectations. But if you’re interested in roller derby, then I would suggest giving this book and maybe even the film a try!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read and i luv the book
Whymsy More than 1 year ago
I’m Sure My Coolness Factor Has Gone Up Just By Reading This Book! In a town where football players are high school gods and their peroxide cheerleader girlfriends reign supreme lives Bliss Cavendar, and her best friend, Pash; Bodeen, Texas’ resident rebels. In love with music and unable to conform to her former-pageant-queen mother’s expectations, Bliss tries to find where she fits. Her salvation comes in the form of Roller Derby, and its witty, tattooed angels. But as with all things, even “crushworth” boys in bands, there is no such thing as perfect and the world is not always how you see it. Told directly to the audience by Bliss this book is fun, fairly light and pretty dang funny! Bliss’ witty comments and scathing descriptions, from saying her mother suffers from Tiara-ism to the unironic mullet, keeps the reader wondering what she will come up with next. Cross nicely interweave Bliss’ hilarity with some heart. Bliss begins the process of transition from child to adult. She realizes her parents are people and not quite the enemy she thought they were. Bliss also makes the startling discovery that her whole world doesn’t need to revolve around herself. Both of which are very mature ideas. This was one of my first introductions to the world of Roller Derby and I have to say I love it. I would definitely recommend this book for more of the high school age group and older, not younger: it deals with underage drinking, sex and shoplifting, plus occasional strong language. Side note: The movie directed by Drew Barrymore based on this book is pretty good in its own right!
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mmcmahonward More than 1 year ago
Whip It is about a girl named, Bliss, who lives in a small, boring, town. She is stuck in the hick town of Bodeen, Texas. I that wasn't bad enough, the people that live there are unbearable. The only thing that keeps her from exploding is her best friend, Pash. Bliss and Pash are two cool chicks who don't fit in with the regular high school life. Fortunately, Bliss's and Pash's life take a turn for the best when they go to a Roller Derby game. Bliss is so inspired and tries out for the Derby team. She beats the odds and gets into the Derby team called the Hurl Scouts. Her wish of having a perfect life comes true. But not all good things can last forever... I liked everything about this book. It was super funny and even a bit inspiring. I related very well to this book because sometimes teenagers feel like they just don't belong.
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