I knew very little about roller derby going into this book (other than the women who do it are TOTAL BADASSES), which is part of the reason I wanted to read it. I’ve known a couple of people in roller derby leagues, and of course have read about it online (including on Pamela Ribon’s own blog, see also: THIS), but I had no idea what the rules were or what the point of a bout was or even how these women skated around so fast and close to each other without someone dying.
Going in Circles is a book about roller derby, sure, but also about a young woman trying to figure out her life, which has gotten sort of supremely fucked up as of late. Charlotte Goodman was living the dream, until her husband left her, for no reason. He eventually came back, but, as her world had been completely shaken, Charlotte moves out so she can figure out what to do next.
She meets a friend, Francesca, at her job (one she pretty much hates) who convinces her to try out for the town’s roller derby league. Charlotte thinks it’s crazy at first but (spoiler alert) ends up loving it. It gives her more confidence, it shows her just how strong she is, and, well, it makes her feel like a badass. Who wouldn’t want that?
As you can imagine, joining roller derby helps her figure out the rest of her problems (with a little help from her friends). I loved how this book presented her situation, showing just how depressed she was and that the situation wasn’t going to be easily, or quickly, resolved. Charlotte Goodman isn’t a perfect character, thank god, because who likes perfect characters? Her runaway husband is even presented somewhat sympathetically, which I appreciated. Bad guys usually aren’t all bad and hardly ever start out that way.
Ribon’s sense of humor is on full display here, even when Charlotte is in the depths of her depression, which helps lighten the mood. She has a way of creating characters that seem like friends, or at least people you wish you could go have a beer with once the book is over. Plus also! It was very informative on the rules and regs of roller derby in general, which I enjoyed learning more about, even if it only strengthened my resolve to never, ever try it. For real. I would die. I bruise like a peach.