A review by sarah984
Bruised, by Tanya Boteju

emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


This is a young adult novel about a young woman (the character is still in high school but she's 18) who joins a roller derby league while dealing with unresolved personal trauma.

Like a lot of other reviews, I was surprised how severe the self-harm content was, and how often it came up in the book. Daya is also extremely obnoxious for the first half of the novel as a self-defence mechanism. It's understandable but it does make parts of the book a slog to get through. The romance was fine but a little underwhelming. Daya obviously benefited but the love interest kind of felt like a prop. The storyline with Kat dragged on way too long and never really felt resolved.

I did like the parts about the derby itself and all its events. Daya’s friend Fee and most of her derby friends were fun characters. I think it's valuable as well to show a character who is still struggling with trauma despite a supportive environment, and I loved how kind and understanding Daya’s aunt and uncle were about her sexuality since you don't usually see that in novels about immigrant families.

The second half of the book was wonderful, but I'm rating it a bit lower for the rough first half. I would not recommend this book to anyone with a history of self-harm because the narrative dwells on it for so long but I would recommend it to anyone else.

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