Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published on 5 June 2018
Genres: Contemporary, United States, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she's diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.
How We Roll was a sweet, short little book I read in a few hours in the early hours of the morning one night when I couldn’t sleep.
It tells a story of self-acceptance from the point of view of a teen girl with alopecia, and her unlikely but endearing and bumpy friendship with a boy at her school who lost his legs in an accident and uses a wheelchair and prosthetic legs. (Also his name is Nick but for some reason the blurbs for this book keep saying Jake!)
Similar to my being drawn to Abbie Emmon’s 100 Days of Sunlight, I wanted to read this book for purely personal reasons. My husband is disabled and a part-time (ambulant) wheelchair user, and I’m interested in how authors, especially in YA (my true love), approach disability – especially when wheelchairs are involved, since they’re the universal symbol of disability.
In comparison, How We Roll wasn’t as deep as 100 Days of Sunlight, and I feel that telling it in third person limited point of view limited the emotional impact on the reader. I think getting Quinn’s point of view would have been stronger and more intense, especially with her brave, unconventional (but probably secretly not so uncommon) somewhat resentful feelings towards her younger brother, who has autism, and is the reason her family moves to another state. We don’t see the story from anyone else’s point of view. I think having a deeper introspection into Quinn’s thoughts, motivations, and deepest secrets would have given this novel, especially its climax, a deeper emotional impact.
I really liked how Quinn had numerous hobbies that helped round her into a three-dimensional character. She loved basketball and skateboarding, and was good at both, and both played a part in her characterisation. I like how she was a genuinely nice person cautious of making faux pas towards probably the first physically disabled person she’s met. I even appreciated how Nick was so angry all the time, which meant that I thought he was an asshole and had to do some work redeeming himself.
The focus on this book was much less on romance, but on a developing friendship between a boy and a girl. The two main relationships Quinn had were divided equally between her difficult brother and her new friendship with Nick. Even though the romance was hinted at, I kind of wish that it had gone all one way or all the other. Instead of leaving me guessing and little unfulfilled at the end (and even a bit uncaring), maybe some more pages could have been added to explore this friendship maybe perhaps tentatively turning into a romance if that’s how you want to interpret it. I mean, I like juice, too.
I really loved the way Friend phonetically spelt out some of the speech of the Boston characters. I LOVE the Boston accent, and it’s not an easy one to imitate, but it sure is fun to listen to, and I felt really immersed reading about characters saying ‘powah’ and ‘ovah’ and stuff like that. It was fun, but also kept reminding us the reader how much of an outsider Quinn was. I was a little disappointed that Nicky didn’t have the Boston accent, too!
Overall I did enjoy reading this book, but I feel like it could have expanded a bit more on the romance side and actually committed to saying something about that, or else making it completely platonic (which I also would have been OK with!), and not just dropping a couple of hints and then ending before anyone committed to anything.