Baxlala’s #CBR5 Review #15: Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon

ribonI 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.

Baxlala’s #CBR5 Review #13: Why Moms Are Weird by Pamela Ribon

books-why-moms-are-weirdI’m terrible. I read this weeks ago and meant to review it right away, but then I had to read a bunch of other library books before they were overdue, otherwise they send the library secret police after you or the books turn into pumpkins or something. Apologies to Why Moms are Weird, because I have a feeling this review isn’t going to do it justice.

Why Moms are Weird is by internet sensation Pamela Ribon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ribon, she is a blogger who used to work for Television Without Pity, which I discovered through Damn Hell Ass Kings, which was home to the first bloggers I ever read, of which Ribon is one. I apologize for that sentence. I suppose I could go back and edit it but NOPE moving on. Pamela Ribon, along with being a famous blogger and one of the founding members of TWoP and DHAK, is a television writer and novelist and, you know, more importantly she also created one of my favorite terms of all time, “wonder killer.”

I read her first novel, Why Girls are Weird, back when it first came out (TEN YEARS AGO FUCK I’M OLD) and, though I haven’t read it in years, it has stuck in my brain in a way that so many other novels just don’t do. I’m sure part of this is because I read it so many times, another part of it is because John Cusack plays an important role, but the most important part is that it’s fucking awesome.

I was sure that I wasn’t going to like Why Moms are Weird as much as I liked Why Girls are Weird (I say liked because, while I want to reread it, I’m a bit afraid to in case my advanced age means I’ll now hate it, see also: Garden State) and I was right, but I still really enjoyed it. Why Moms are Weird is a different animal than Why Girls are Weird. It focuses on a woman named Benny who has purposefully moved far, far away from her overbearing mother and irresponsible sister, not because she doesn’t love them, but because did you not see the overbearing and the irresponsible?

However, when her mother is in an accident, Benny travels across the country to be with her family. She finds the house in disarray and, in the process of organizing and cleaning it, she not only learns to better understand her mother and sister, she learns to better understand herself. I realize that I typed the most cliche sentence ever just now but don’t hold it against this book, OK?

The thing that struck me about this novel is that it could very easily be labeled chick lit (though…just don’t or I’ll kick you), but the most important relationships in it are not the ones Benny has with any of her man friends. That’s not to say those relationships aren’t important, but the real love story here is between Benny and her family. Her wonderful, infuriating, weird family. And there just aren’t enough novels like that.

Next up: Going in Circles, also by Ribon (I pretty much checked out all the Pamela Ribon books the library had, FYI).