I may be a recent fan of Roller Derby, but consider me hooked. Having always loved roller skating, the roller derby sport is fascinating. It combines skill, athleticism, and rough edges. That’s why I knew I had to read Bruised. Keep reading this book review to hear my full thoughts.
To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart.
So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.
The deeper Daya immerses herself into the world of roller derby, though, the more she realizes it’s not the simple physical pain-fest she was hoping for. Her rough-and-tumble teammates and their fans push her limits in ways she never imagined, bringing Daya to big truths about love, loss, strength, and healing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Bruised continued my love of Boteju’s books from Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens. It’s a book about discovering roller derby, new communities, and pieces of ourselves. Daya is still reeling from the grief of losing her parents. As readers we get to know them through memories and snippets. The ways her dad pushed her to box and to be tough. All the times she didn’t understand her mother and her silences. Overall, I think the characters are my favorite element in Bruised.
Daya is used to being strong, to knowing that when we’re strong we won’t break. That we can bruise, but it will never break us. She believes that shouldering through the pain is the only way to persevere. Believing that weakness is a source only of vulnerability and pain, Daya must learn that we don’t have to take every bruise. There’s a well of pain, guilt, and sadness within her. And it can’t always be solved with fists and anger.
That just because we can handle ourselves doesn’t mean we always have to alone. Softness and vulnerability isn’t a bad thing. It can be harder to feel, to allow the emotions to roll over us, then to just become hardened to the pain. But I loved all the characters – even the side characters. Shanti and her sister’s relationship made my heart ache and don’t even get me started on Daya’s Aunt and Uncle! Bruised is a story about healing and letting love, light, and laughter back in our lives.