"Whip It" (aka Derby Girl) - Shauna Cross - 2007

Roller Derby is awesome, and that's a straight up fact.  It's one of those things I just know I'd be great at in my own head (like riding a mechanical bull,  boxing, etc) but would suck at in reality.  Sadly, the Greater Johnstown area hasn't had a functional skating rink since the mid-90's when Skateland closed it's doors.  Some of my best elementary school memories reside in those dingy rental skates, I would love to see it come back.  However, even if we had a rink and a derby league (rooftop derby jokes aside) it's not a sport I'd attempt without health insurance or being in better shape, but I sure do admire the hell of those girls that live it.  

I found Drew Barrymore's film adaptation fun and spot-on, especially her role in it - laugh out loud hilarious.  They did an excellent job casting recognizable yet believable actresses.  I guess I related to the women in the film more than the novel, as I'm closer to 30 than 20... I appreciated Juliette Lewis's character talking about all the years she's fought to find something she excelled at, and Kristin Wiig's character being a mom.  The derby girls in the novel are college age, not too many years separate them from Bliss.  Someday those years will become nearly meaningless, 27 isn't all that different from 24, but 19 is pretty damn different from 16.  The novel's Derby Girls have their freedom from parental figures, but the freedom feels less of a lifestyle and more of a potential passing phase, than the women in the film version.  

I was so excited to read "Whip It" after finishing the "French Lieutenant's Woman" because it seemed like the perfect piece of contemporary teen angst to counterpoint the heavy Victorian/Postmodern language of Fowles classic.  Unfortunately it wasn't.  Overall, and as evidenced by how much I enjoyed the film, I enjoyed the coming-of-age story.  However, I found Cross's teen speak increasingly cloying and bothersome, in the end I found it hard to root for Bliss.  

 There's a large chunk of indie rock culture built on knowing the most obscure bands before anyone else does.  Now, I love a pop culture reference, I had a black eye from the Gilmore Girls drinking game to prove it...but honestly, is the pro tools vs. reel to reel comment necessary?  Cross tries just a little too hard - which is where the film trumps the novel - it's way easier to include a sweet song than write about one. And...

 Would a 16-year-old in 2007 really make out to Pinkerton?  

I sincerely doubt it.

1) It's not a great make out album. 
2) Bliss would have been 5 when that record came out. 
3) She doesn't know the Velvet Underground and Nico, but quotes, "Why Bother"?  
Where's her "two years" of musical education coming from? 
4) I'm not buying it.  

I buy that the author would know and love Weezer's second record, I do, almost everyone I know does - those people aren't 16.  Authors should remember that songs/albums beloved in the mid-90's probably don't correspond with beloved albums of teens in the 2000's.   

Oh, and I think "Sam's Town" surpassed the hype, and the reference seriously dated the book.  

Cross's screenplay surpasses the book, I think she really got the story right the second time around. Drew Barrymore nails her directorial debut, if you ignore the blatant Cover Girl product placement and Little Joy shout out, that is.