Friday, August 24, 2012

Whip It: Inspiring Youngins’ to bring out those old skates everywhere

By Angela Thomas

If there ever was a book that young, thrift-store shopping, grunge-music loving, hipster teenagers will grasp onto it, Shauna Cross wrote it.

Cross, a former “derby doll,” is the author of the brilliant, slightly autobiographical book, Whip It, which was famously later adapted into a movie starring Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, and Kristen Wiig.

Whip It tells the story of Bliss Cavendar, an indie, music-obsessed, Skyper t-shirt-wearing, and eagerly awaiting her departure from her small-town, teenage girl who allows readers to fall in love with her instantly. Bliss has a way of communicating with readers and making us feel like we are indeed her best friend (besides, Pash, her gorgeous and equally independent best friend).

What I love about Bliss is that she is just like the rest of us as teenagers, desperately seeking some place cooler. When Bliss and her beauty-pageant-obsessed mother go on a shopping spree in Austin, Texas, Bliss comes into contact with her future in a vintage shop. Spotting a flyer for the roller derby, Bliss becomes determined to attend one of these derby games. After Pash scores a car and the two of them score a great excuse to get out of Austin un-detected, they attend a derby game in pursuit of meeting their heroes and meeting a few cute boys. When Bliss is informed by her soon-to-be-derby-pal, Malice, about derby tryouts, Bliss moves towards a future as “Babe Ruthless,” the popular derby girl for the sexy but always losing, Hurl Scouts.

As readers, we are cheering for Bliss to accomplish her dreams. We are afraid for her heart (especially when she falls for the bad boy, Oliver), we are afraid of her controlling and image-obsessed mother from taking away Bliss’s chance of becoming a derby star, and we are especially afraid for her when Bliss takes on the scary and ultra-competitive, Dinah, on the track.

Cross brings to life a story of a teenager, who although is different, still strives to achieve greatness. Bliss is an inspiration to any teenager out there who feels different because of the way they dress, the music they listen to, or the things they enjoy. She encourages teens to go for what they want, even if everyone is routing against them and that is exactly what readers need. 

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