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on February 13, 2007
Imagine living a fairly quiet life, having come out of the "dog eat dog" corporate world and moved to laid-back Austin, Texas. A real, enjoyable change has taken place in your life. However, one day you go and see a flat track roller derby match, and you are hooked so much by what you have seen, you decide to try out for roller derby.

This is just the beginning of a personal journey by author Melissa Joulwan, aka: Melicious, who describes in her book Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track an amazing adventure that brought an admitted nerd into team sports.

Readers find out that Melicious in fact worked very hard to get as good as she could, and loved skating with her teammates, although after her first regular season, felt there was nothing really satisfying about the team sport aspect of this new activity. That situation would change, and so readers share in that pursuit that saw the formation of skater-owned and operated flat track roller derby, and eventually the formation of well over 150 roller derby leagues throughout the world.

I found this book to be difficult to put down, although Ms. Joulwan's descriptions are so vivid at times I had to slow down and savor her writing. For a roller derby fan like me, it was a thrill to find out how the revival of roller derby in this decade came about. It was fascinating to hear stories like how her first pair of roller derby skates used for tryouts were just the wrong color (white) and so her husband Dave drew an anarchy symbol on them in magic marker to make them derby acceptable.

It is the first of many wonderful stories in this book. Highlights include the story of how a major injury in an uninsured venue, drove a split in the organization she was skating in, and eventually led to a skater-run league that would be the pattern for most emerging roller derby leagues in the next four years. It is also satisfying to read about her many friends and co-league skaters, all of whom seem to have very unique backgrounds that came together in this passionate love of an emerging sport.

And for Melicious, after four years of skating, and being a fan at the first National Flat Track Championship in Tucson, Arizona, a real transformation had taken place. The former nerd and sometimes roller skater had become a teammate, and a sports participant. She had gone from an empty feeling on team sports early in her derby experience, to understanding the artistry and strategy in other team sports.

This book is a must read for fans of roller derby, but I also think it is an excellent read for sports fans in general. As a sports fan, and a former player and coach in sports, this book reminded me of the unique qualities of team sports. Winning games and derby bouts may be nice, but the discipline of sports and the friends who support the effort are invaluable. These teammates and friends are truly treasures of life and I think Ms. Joulwan has done an excellent job of communicating this in Rollergirl: True Tales from the Track.
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on February 11, 2007
Not only does this book explain the neat history of derby and the even neater story of the author's rise to derby stardom, it gives the reader a wicked personal boost. Melicious' positive attitude is refreshing and infectious. It's high time we have a strong, smart, and savvy role model who proves that women of all ages and all backgrounds can excel both on and off the track. The perfect gift for your friends, moms, kids, etc.
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on April 13, 2007
When Melissa Joulwan saw her first roller derby bout way back in 2001, she was immediately hooked. Having just moved to Austin and looking for ways to reinvent herself, the chance to become Melicious, a roller derby powerhouse, seemed like the answer to her prayers. Little did she know what she -- and the rest of the world -- was in for.

As a sport that had come in and out of fashion since the Great Depression, roller derby was all but dead when a gang of girls from Austin, Texas got ahold of it. Through hard work, determination, and an unwavering desire to strap on a pair of skates and knock each other over, the Texas Rollergirls single-handedly launched a flat-track roller derby revolution. Currently the fastest growing women's sport in America and boasting over 160 DIY, grassroots leagues in cities across the nation, roller derby has broken barriers, changed lives, and formed countless relationships and communities.

As one of the founding members of the Texas Rollergirls, Melicious has been there from the beginning, and in Rollergirl she spills it all -- the early interleague drama, the first public bouts, the heartbreaking and bone crushing injuries, and the "by the skaters, for the skaters" ethos that has sustained roller derby through thick and thin. A memoir, a history book, a how-to manual, and all told in an intimate, conspiratorial tone, Rollergirl is an epic ode to a sport that's so much more than just a game. You don't have to love derby to get a kick out of Rollergirl, but I dare you to remain indifferent once you finish. In fact, you might just find yourself compelled to don a pair of fishnets and seek out a slice of glory on your own eight wheels.

And somewhere, anywhere, there's a roller derby league waiting with open arms to take you in -- and knock you down.
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on January 5, 2015
What a good story about one of the original roller girls. My friends and I had recently gone to a roller derby match. It was a first for all of us and it was a blast. The author, Melissa, is a very good story teller. Her descriptions are hilarious and it was great matching a face to a photo as the book is loaded with picture.
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on March 23, 2007
Fantastic behind-the-scenes writing about the resurgence of a new (and much better) version of American Roller Derby! Melissa (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at an event in Tucson) is the stuff - an ordinary girl, maybe even a little on the homely side, sheds her day skin and becomes a queen of the track.

If you haven't heard about Flat Track Roller Derby, this book is THE place to start. The competitors are accessible, friendly, and oh-so-entertaining. And to boot, this is a serious sport, folks. Not the fabricated WWF sideshow of old. Flat Track Roller Derby is tough, competitive, bruising, and just way too much fun!
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on March 30, 2011
Finding books on the sport of Roller Derby is hard. I was thrilled to read this and could not put it down! I finished it in less than a day. It had a fun section on how to choose a Derby Name (of course I read this right after name submissions) and I learned why so many leagues are "by the skater, for the skater!" I had never considered what it would be like to be in a league where the board wasn't as concerned with our safety as our board is. I appreciate how much hard work went into forming my league and I am so grateful to the girls that paved the way.

Thank you so much Melicious! You entertained me and made me learn something at the same time!
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on July 16, 2012
I picked this up just weeks into learning how to skate on quads in an effort to join my local league. I read it in record time, feeling her passion, experiencing the ups and downs, and celebrating along the way. It really ignited my interest in roller derby and helped me to not give up. I just participated in my first bout, and then I really understood the high and elation expressed in Rollergirl. This easy and interesting read is perfect for anyone who is curious about flat track derby, loves sports, or is a fan or rollergirl.
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on May 5, 2009
Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track is a wonderful supplementary text for a course in Sociology or Psychology of Sport. It is a well-written narrative of one woman's experience with flat-track roller derby. This experience is framed within the history of the sport and laced with details of the sport's re-emergence. Insights are provided into the role of the skater's persona, team identity, and the relationships between the fans and the skaters. While this book is an interesting work in and of itself, it provides a unique learning experience for students of sociology, psychology, and kinisiology. It may also have some interest to students in women's studies.
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on February 13, 2007
Rollergirl is a book that will inspire ALL KINDS OF READERS (not just rough and tumble derby girls) to be true to themselves and make the most of their lives. As a narrative, it's a fun, quick read. As a historical document, it tells an unusual, engaging tale of the birth of one of the coolest scenes to hit sports, music, and fashion in forever. And just in general, Rollergirl makes you want to get up off the couch and go make your dreams come true. Congratulations to the author for showing us all how it's done! I hope I can follow in her footsteps. :)
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on February 12, 2007
As a member of an older roller derby league myself, I really appreciated the brute honesty in this book. Melicious tells you how it really is, none of the sugarcoating or glossing over the ugly parts, just the truth. All those little nagging questions get answered!

I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone, a founder of an older league, members of upstart leagues, fans, historians, anyone who's interested in roller derby revival.

Enjoy the read!

Bolshe Vixen

Tucson Roller Derby
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