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Bruised

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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 s 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.


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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 s 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.

30 review for Bruised

  1. 5 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    Whip It meets We Are Okay in this vibrant coming-of-age story, about a teen girl navigates first love, identity, and grief when she immerses herself in the colorful, brutal, beautiful world of roller derby. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram Whip It meets We Are Okay in this vibrant coming-of-age story, about a teen girl navigates first love, identity, and grief when she immerses herself in the colorful, brutal, beautiful world of roller derby. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  2. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    TW: Self-harm, emotional abuse, parental death, grief Ever since her parents' deaths in a horrifying car accident, Daya has pushed the world away. She's repressed her feelings, choosing physical pain over grief, using bruises to push down her underlying guilt. Until she's introduced to the world of roller derby, and discovers that there are different ways to be strong, and different ways to express your hurt. And that sometimes, it's okay to go a different way. This was fabulous. Highly, highly re TW: Self-harm, emotional abuse, parental death, grief Ever since her parents' deaths in a horrifying car accident, Daya has pushed the world away. She's repressed her feelings, choosing physical pain over grief, using bruises to push down her underlying guilt. Until she's introduced to the world of roller derby, and discovers that there are different ways to be strong, and different ways to express your hurt. And that sometimes, it's okay to go a different way. This was fabulous. Highly, highly recommend. I was underwhelmed by Kings, Queens and In-Betweens, mainly because I found the characters to be one-dimensional and the love interest a bland manic gothic nightmare girl, so I tiptoed into this one (convinced to smash that request button by the awesome blurb and the promise of queer roller derby), and I really, really connected with each and every single character in this one. She needs to learn to stand her ground. To not let anyone get to her, Sunita. Fighting in the ring will teach her that. You know we have to work twice as hard. Be twice as strong. Whew. Where do I even start with this review? Especially since it's been almost a month since I finished the book, and all of my reviews have piled up because I just don't know how to talk about this in any coherent way. And yet, since of leaving the review on read and just skipping along to my day, there was some about this that really, really hit hard with me. Daya is first generation Sri Lankan-Canadian, and her father had to work his ass off in order to support his family (and his brother) in order to get a toehold in the Vancouver area. Because of this, her dad was determined to ensure Daya was strong as fuck, but strong in his own way. And Daya's dad's strength was deceptively strong, the strong where you build walls, suppress your emotions, become physically tough and distant and keep everything else out so you don't get hurt. Mild spoiler, there is some heavy emotional abuse in this relationship, and the way Daya's father pushes her is not healthy. His projections of his own fears and desires and anger onto her twists her own emotional growth, until she views everything not like him as weak, and herself as weak because she can't keep up with his idealized version of himself. Okay, going to stop there because I'm reading farrrr to much into this. Anywho. When her parents die in car wreck, Daya feels incredibly guilty because she was there and she survived (not going to spoil it completely but the twist isn't a huge twist—you see it coming a mile away and it still will break your heart into a million, billion pieces because it wasn't her fault at all, and yet you can still see how she's rationalized it in her head thanks to the years of well, everything). And how to do you make yourself feel kinda better, or assuage some of the guilt, particularly when you're brought up in to literally beat the shit out of someone with your fists? You harm yourself. Physical pain=the simultaneous expression/repression of grief. Because if you fuck yourself up enough physically, then emotionally it makes some small part feel just a little bit better, because you deserved to be hurt. Roller derby is so much more than the sport; it is a community that strives to empower and revolutionize the way we see women. I loved how Daya is initially drawn into roller derby—it's chaotic, wild, and literally there are hips and elbows flying everywhere without any seeming rules or structure. When she gets more involved with it, she begins to realize what it means to be part of a team. Previously, she'd been incredibly athletic and talented at boxing, but boxing is an individual sport and she was kept mostly isolated by her dad and his training regiment. So she's got to learn how to roller blade, learn the rules of roller derby, and learn teamwork in order to get on (and stay on) the team. But what makes it truly unique is that it is a full contact sport that has been created, developed, promoted, operated and led by women. I really, really loved the supporting characters (well, all but one) in this book. Daya has some truly fantastic friends and family. There are her aunt and uncle, who are grief-struck as well by the deaths and bewildered over becoming the guardians of a rebellious, checked-out teenager who just wants to skateboard and be by herself. I loved her aunt and uncle (note it's been a month so I don't remember any names), who are musical and theatre fanatics and are just so bubbly and delightful, and yet that bubbliness and overwhelming cheer is their coping mechanism. I also loved Dee's friends before she meets the roller derby girls. Pretty much that person is Fee, who is nonbinary and amazing (as is their mom), and Fee's girlfriend (who is deaf!!! Deaf rep y'all!!!). And Fee and their girlfriend are brown, which is just so fantastic (pretty much everyone in this book is a person of color and/or queer, and I was so in love). I also loved the OG Roller Derby Fanatics. Again, I can't remember names, but these are the older adults who basically created roller derby and continue to champion it and support it and boost and welcome new players and fans. I so, so loved how supportive they were of Daya, and how they seemed to recognize (it's very much Daya's POV so you don't really see what other people are thinking) that Daya was lost and grieving and that she needed something, and that that something was connection, family and healing. I also loved Shanti, Daya's love interest. Shanti is strong, too, but she's not truly a roller derby girl. Her older sister, Kat, is the captain of the roller derby team Daya wants to join (The Killa Honeys), and it's Kat Daya most looks up to, because Kat is everything Daya wants to be: tough as nails, a little bit cruel, a strong leader, and 100% confident (although what Daya doesn't see is that Kat is Daya if she doesn't get herself together). I did not like how Kat treated Shanti, and how Kat looked down on Shanti's empathy and emotional intelligence like that was something weak and to be toughened up (I um, I was Kat, and still am Kat, which is why I don't like Kat—I see myself in her and I do not like that part of myself). Anywho, this is a really long review #sorrynotsorry Bottom line up front (BLUF in military terms): this is a book about grieving and coping strategies and friendship and complicated family relationships. It's about picking yourself up (and letting people help you up), and moving forward after a fuck-up. And it's a little bit about roller derby, too. This was definitely the book for me, although I so, so wish I had had it when I was a teenager. Last thought: if anything I wrote here touched a nerve, this might be the book for you, too. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  3. 5 out of 5

    sarah

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eArc in exchange for an honest review! I loved every single second of this book, and have literally no critiques. The characters were well rounded and fleshed out, the depiction of grief and self-blame felt genuine, the roller derby scenes were awesome, and the romance made my heart fill with joy. I loved EVERY character, and appreciated Boteju's ability to write a naturally diverse story without it feeling like boxes were being t Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eArc in exchange for an honest review! I loved every single second of this book, and have literally no critiques. The characters were well rounded and fleshed out, the depiction of grief and self-blame felt genuine, the roller derby scenes were awesome, and the romance made my heart fill with joy. I loved EVERY character, and appreciated Boteju's ability to write a naturally diverse story without it feeling like boxes were being ticked. Watching Daya grow and take the steps she needed to take in order to get help was an honour, and I truly cannot wait to read Boteju's other work! Trigger warnings for parental death, death by car crash, self harm, depression, mentions of child abuse/domestic violence, homophobia and transphobia (challenged on page)

  4. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (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 mothe (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. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Bruised in exchange for an honest review. I love stories about grief. I love sapphic stories. Bruised sounded perfect. Boteju does a really good job of writing teenagers in a way that feels real and it made Daya's pain, grief, and unhealthy coping mechanisms pack that much harder of a punch. I loved her journey towards healing and while I did like the romance, I'm not a big fan of healing stories being intertwined this strongly with the beginning of Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Bruised in exchange for an honest review. I love stories about grief. I love sapphic stories. Bruised sounded perfect. Boteju does a really good job of writing teenagers in a way that feels real and it made Daya's pain, grief, and unhealthy coping mechanisms pack that much harder of a punch. I loved her journey towards healing and while I did like the romance, I'm not a big fan of healing stories being intertwined this strongly with the beginning of a relationship. I'm not a massive fan of how the relationship plot thread ends (which I obviously can't really get into details about because spoilers) but other than that, I loved this.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zizzy W

    My HEART got bruised looking at this cover because it's AMAZINGGG My HEART got bruised looking at this cover because it's AMAZINGGG

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Pineo

    "Bruised" by Tanya Boteju, Simon & Schuster Canada Category: YA LGBTQ romance *I received this eARC from Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My rating: 5 stars TW (trigger warnings): death, self-harm, bullying, mention of domestic abuse Description from the publisher: 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’ "Bruised" by Tanya Boteju, Simon & Schuster Canada Category: YA LGBTQ romance *I received this eARC from Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My rating: 5 stars TW (trigger warnings): death, self-harm, bullying, mention of domestic abuse Description from the publisher: 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. A grief-stricken girl finds camaraderie and a way to keep the bruises coming in "Bruised", a YA novel from Tanya Boteju. I really enjoyed this book. Daya, the main character, had a wonderful, sarcastic wit and a great voice throughout this novel. I loved how the author didn't shy away from the reasons Daya kept hurting herself while still not having the character do a deep dive into her psyche. She self-harms to keep grief at bay, focusing the pain physically instead of internally. I found this very believable and written with care. The novel was a quick read with it's fast pace but didn't feel like it glossed over anything. The characters were well-rounded and even the antagonist was written with understanding and love. The relationships with the girls on the derby team, the older couples and her guardians were hilarious and fun to read, while her relationship with love interest Shanti was hard but ultimately satisfying. A great coming of age novel.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    There is so much to love about this book. It deals with grief is a such an incredible way and I always appreciate a book that talks about the benefits of therapy. I felt a connection to Daya, but it is the side characters who really shine in this and who help Daya through her grief even when she was resistant to it. The romance is also really sweet and the roller derby element was compelling. I loved that the author included a breakdown of the history of the sport at the end. I am excited for it There is so much to love about this book. It deals with grief is a such an incredible way and I always appreciate a book that talks about the benefits of therapy. I felt a connection to Daya, but it is the side characters who really shine in this and who help Daya through her grief even when she was resistant to it. The romance is also really sweet and the roller derby element was compelling. I loved that the author included a breakdown of the history of the sport at the end. I am excited for its release day and for everyone to read it, because I have a feeling it is going to get a lot of buzz! It is important to note that there is a content warning to self harm and it is a major theme of this novel, so I would avoid this book if that triggers you in any way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)

    Full Review on The Candid Cover Bruised by Tanya Boteju is a heavier read than I would normally gravitate to, but I enjoyed every page. This one is a great introduction to roller derby, and I loved being immersed in this fast-paced world. The main character is tough, but as the book progresses, she learns to embrace different forms of strength. I would recommend this one to those looking for a more serious coming-of-age story. As a way of coping with the loss of her parents, Daya joins a roller de Full Review on The Candid Cover Bruised by Tanya Boteju is a heavier read than I would normally gravitate to, but I enjoyed every page. This one is a great introduction to roller derby, and I loved being immersed in this fast-paced world. The main character is tough, but as the book progresses, she learns to embrace different forms of strength. I would recommend this one to those looking for a more serious coming-of-age story. As a way of coping with the loss of her parents, Daya joins a roller derby term in hopes of externalizing her pain rather than dealing with it emotionally. The sport is unfamiliar to her, and she has never played on a team before, which pushes her to her limits in unexpected ways–both physically and mentally. I have never read a book about roller derby before, and it was really interesting to explore this world along with Daya. The dynamic cast of side characters who make up the Killa Honeys is also a highlight. ❀ COMPLEX MAIN CHARACTER Daya is a complex character, and I loved her growth. She is incredibly strong, but when we meet her, she is closed off after suffering a tremendous loss. While her ways of coping are unhealthy, it is easy to root for her, and to understand where her actions are coming from. As the book progresses, Daya discovers a different side of herself and learns to be part of a team, beginning a gradual path towards healing. ❀ POWERFUL MESSAGE Throughout this book is a powerful message about toughness. To Daya, vulnerability is a weakness, as she has been conditioned to be strong her entire life. However, as she gets to know the Killa Honeys, she starts to learn that softness is a different kind of strength in itself. In fact, her raw toughness can be considered a weakness. It is so moving to watch Daya come to recognize the softness in herself, and she doesn’t become any less tough because of it. ❀ A STORY ABOUT GRIEF AND SELF-DISCOVERY Bruised by Tanya Boteju is a story about grief and self-discovery. I loved the topic of roller derby, and the main character is well-developed. The book’s message about different forms of strength further enriches the narrative. Those looking for a heavier yet accessible read about the world of roller derby will enjoy this one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    CW: self-harm, bullying, parental death Bruised is self-exemination, emotional and enthralling read. Daya has such well built character arc and all her friends and her uncle and aunt are amazing. Romance between her Shanti was really sweet and roller derby part was fun to read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ruei (Ruei's Reading Corner)

    Full Review: https://rueisreadingcorner.blogspot.c... After surviving an accident that takes away her parents, Daya's life is turned upside down. Every day seems to be a nightmare and living with her aunt and uncle doesn't make things better. To help herself cope with loss, she gives herself bruises to fight against the internal pain. Daya keeps to herself and the only time she socializes is at the skatepark. After seeing a roller derby bout in action, she decides to try it because it looks like a Full Review: https://rueisreadingcorner.blogspot.c... After surviving an accident that takes away her parents, Daya's life is turned upside down. Every day seems to be a nightmare and living with her aunt and uncle doesn't make things better. To help herself cope with loss, she gives herself bruises to fight against the internal pain. Daya keeps to herself and the only time she socializes is at the skatepark. After seeing a roller derby bout in action, she decides to try it because it looks like a good way to numb her pain. The only problem is that she's never played in a team before, so this will be a whole new experience for her. I loved all the characters and how real they felt. Her aunt and uncle were so fun to read about and very unique in personality. They were always trying their best to make Daya feel welcomed at home which I found very touching. I also liked how the story was focused on roller derby, something that I don't see often in books. I found it really interesting to read about and it was pretty easy to understand. Overall, Bruised is a great book that focuses on family, forgiveness, hurt, and love. Following Daya's journey, I loved seeing how she developed as a character. Fans of the graphic novel, Roller Girl, would also enjoy it very much. **Thank you so much to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for sending me an Advanced Reader's Copy in exchange for an honest review!**

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manon the Malicious

    *4.5 Stars* I was provided an ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. TW: death of a parent, self harm, car crash, grief. Daya Wijesinghe just lost her parents in a horrible car crash she feels guilty for. She's not living with her uncle she barely knew and his wife which also means she goes to a new school but doesn't socialize there or anywhere really except for the skate-park. She loves skating cause it gets her out of her head and she can fully focus on her body and she also likes t *4.5 Stars* I was provided an ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. TW: death of a parent, self harm, car crash, grief. Daya Wijesinghe just lost her parents in a horrible car crash she feels guilty for. She's not living with her uncle she barely knew and his wife which also means she goes to a new school but doesn't socialize there or anywhere really except for the skate-park. She loves skating cause it gets her out of her head and she can fully focus on her body and she also likes the bruises. So when she first found out of roller derby, she's transfixed. It seems like the perfect way to get bruised. But rolled derby is not only about the hits, it's a team sport and is Daya ready to be part of a team? This one hurt deep. It was raw and powerful. I actually didn't know anything about it when I first started reading it except that there was some roller derby in it and that it was sapphic. So its very beginning really threw me. It was all really well done. The plot was engaging and painful but it all just made sense. I loved learning more about roller derby, how the sports really works and everything around it. It was really great. I also loved going on Daya's journey with her. I did relate to her in some ways and, at the same time, she could really infuriate me. Still, I felt for her and found her really interesting. I really loved Daya's friendships. The secondary characters were all so very lovely and layered. I loved them loads. I do wish the self harm was acknowledged more as harmful instead of a coping mechanism and that Daya's romantic relationship was a bit more in depth. Anyway, I really really liked Bruised and I'll definitely reread it as soon as it comes out.

  13. 5 out of 5

    artemis

    Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for providing me with an excerpt in exchange of a honest review. The book itself I actually didn't mind, I love me some sports books despite me being the least sporty person ever (aside from me being into hockey/figure skating and loving dance) so this was another great addition! I can't say much about it as I don't have any overly strong opinions. The main character, Daya is fleshed out and the author did a good job of her struggles of dealing w Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for providing me with an excerpt in exchange of a honest review. The book itself I actually didn't mind, I love me some sports books despite me being the least sporty person ever (aside from me being into hockey/figure skating and loving dance) so this was another great addition! I can't say much about it as I don't have any overly strong opinions. The main character, Daya is fleshed out and the author did a good job of her struggles of dealing with grief. The only two things I had with this book is until reading the acknowledgments at the end I wasn't completely sure if the author knew that this was a story about self-harm as much as it was about grief. Personally, I don't get easily triggered but sometimes I'll get set off at random moments so having just a mention of a warning that there is self-harm helps in advance just in case. Although, those who are more easily triggered may want a warning so I honestly suggest just warning those who are interested in this book that this does have self-harm. Even though it's not typical, it follows the same pattern so that's the only thing I have a "strong" opinion over. This one was personal but I felt that perhaps the romance could've waited until after Daya figured out with her grief but this feels like nitpicking a little bit so. Aside from that, it's a nice book to read and a fast read!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! Bruised by Tanya Boteju really packs a punch and almost leaves your heart bruised as you read through Daya's story of navigating the ever-bumpy path of grief, fear, and keeping guards up. After her parents' death, Daya stays locked within herself, never really allowing others or herself to grow close for fear of losing them and getting hurt in the process. But she's already hurt, already bruised, and she tur ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! Bruised by Tanya Boteju really packs a punch and almost leaves your heart bruised as you read through Daya's story of navigating the ever-bumpy path of grief, fear, and keeping guards up. After her parents' death, Daya stays locked within herself, never really allowing others or herself to grow close for fear of losing them and getting hurt in the process. But she's already hurt, already bruised, and she turns to that physical hurt and bruising as a way to prove her own toughness and keep herself distracted from the emotional hurt and bruising, and what better way to get physically hurt and bruised than joining a roller derby team. This roller derby team turns out to be exactly what she needed, in more ways than Daya originally expected. If you loved We Are Okay, then you'll definitely love this book; however, they are their own stories. Bruised definitely revolves around how messy and intense grief can be, how it can bring about so many different emotions, and how grief isn't linear, but it highlights more of how grief can also manifest physically. A lot of the bruising is self-inflicted as a coping mechanism, and the roller derby helps add to that and speed it along. Even though the book follows a lot of grief and physical pain, there are scenes of therapy and healthier coping mechanisms, casual queerness and plenty of lgbtq (and diverse!) characters, scenes of fun and unbridle joy of life, eventual openness and clear communication, and a soft romance. These all add in to the stages of grief and healing and how someone else's pain could help teach a lesson about yourself. This is a very enjoyable and great book, with important lessons and messages attached. Also, this is my first jump into the roller derby scene, and I'll end by saying I'm now a huge fan! Bruised should definitely be on everyone's book radar and add it to your reading list!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Bruised comes out March 23rd and I was sent an eARC thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada! There is so much to love about this book. It deals with grief is a such an incredible way and I always appreciate a book that talks about the benefits of therapy. I felt a connection to Daya, but it is the side characters who really shine in this and who help Daya through her grief even when she was resistant to it. The romance is also really sweet and the roller derby element was compelling. I loved that th Bruised comes out March 23rd and I was sent an eARC thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada! There is so much to love about this book. It deals with grief is a such an incredible way and I always appreciate a book that talks about the benefits of therapy. I felt a connection to Daya, but it is the side characters who really shine in this and who help Daya through her grief even when she was resistant to it. The romance is also really sweet and the roller derby element was compelling. I loved that the author included a breakdown of the history of the sport at the end. I am excited for its release day and for everyone to read it, because I have a feeling it is going to get a lot of buzz! It is important to note that there is a content warning to self harm and it is a major theme of this novel, so I would avoid this book if that triggers you in any way.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Althea

    DNF @ 50% So far this book is one of my biggest disappointments of 2021, and I'm so sad that I had to DNF it. Bruised follows Daya Wijesinghe who, after her parents' deaths uses bruises as a form of self harm in order to keep her pain more 'manageable' and on the surface. When her friend brings her along to a roller derby bout, Daya is immediately enthralled by the sport. So, she tries out for the local team as it's the perfect way to find more bruises, but she soon realises that there's much mor DNF @ 50% So far this book is one of my biggest disappointments of 2021, and I'm so sad that I had to DNF it. Bruised follows Daya Wijesinghe who, after her parents' deaths uses bruises as a form of self harm in order to keep her pain more 'manageable' and on the surface. When her friend brings her along to a roller derby bout, Daya is immediately enthralled by the sport. So, she tries out for the local team as it's the perfect way to find more bruises, but she soon realises that there's much more to it than just pain. When I had just come out I watched Whip It with Eliott Page and absolutely fell in love, so of course I was drawn to this sapphic contemporary novel that revolves around (pun not intended!) roller derby. But sadly, I felt really let down by it. It wasn't all bad, though, and I kept reading until I really couldn't face reading any more, so I'll start this review with the good parts of the book! One of the main things I loved about this book was the representation. Our main character, Daya, is Sri Lankan-Canadian and sapphic, and there are Chinese-American side characters, nonbinary side characters, and Deaf side characters (and most of the other characters are queer and/or people of colour!). I also thought that the discussion of physical strength vs. kindness and mental strength to be well developed and a really great addition to the book. Of course, my favourite thing about the book was the roller derby. I really love that it is acknowledged that every body of every shape and size is important to the sport - this is much like the case in rugby, the sport I play, where everybody is welcome and everybody has a point to play. This inclusivity is something that I feel is sorely lacking in a lot of contemporary and romance novels that feature sport, so I was so happy to see it here. There were a couple of side characters I really enjoyed, too, such as Daya's friend Fee and their girlfriend, and the two elderly lesbian ex-derby players and their friends! Now, onto what I sadly didn't like. The first may be just a 'me problem' but I didn't like how self harm was handled in this book. I don't know if maybe I just didn't glean it from my reading of the synopsis, but I didn't realise that it was going to play a part in the book at all, and as someone who finds mention of self harm (and description of it, in the case of this book), I would really have preferred that there be a trigger warning somewhere in the book. My understanding of the synopsis was that our main character was using a rather physical sport, in particular roller derby, in order to get her frustrations and pain out, not using it as a way to self harm, that is why I say that it may just be that I didn't understand and comprehend the synopsis correctly, so take that part with a pinch of salt. But adding onto that, I didn't feel that the self harm was handled all that sensitively. Again, this may have been addressed later in the book, and there are quite a few reviews of people saying that they enjoyed this representation, so I encourage you to read other reviews if you're interested in this book because, again, this may just be a 'me problem'. Throughout the book I couldn't help but feel that the self harm was never shown as being a harmful coping mechanism, and it almost felt (and I hate to say it) glorified. But as I think that my dislike of that is a personal point, and definitely not something that other readers have found, what I really want to focus on in this review is what was my breaking point - the main character. I could not stand Daya! I understood that she had gone through some shit, losing both of her parents in a car crash that she survived, but after a while I just couldn't look past her attitude and everything she did was selfish and judgemental. Right at the start of the book she is very 'I'm not like those other girls'. She befriends, and flirts a little with, the team manager of the local derby team (Shanti), and she (very kindly) invites her along into the ringside seats. Whilst there they get to chatting and Daya finds out that Shanti's sister (Kat) is one of the stars of the team. Daya, impressed by her skill and strength starts gushing over Kat and how amazing she is, and Shanti is hurt by this. It is obvious that in this situation Shanti feels like she is always overshadowed by her sister, and she politely excuses herself to carry on with her team manager duties instead of flirting with Daya who is practically a stranger to her. Daya then thinks "This is why I don't hang out with chicks. So damn sensitive". Like, are you kidding me?? Fast forward and Daya is learning how to roller skate for the tryouts - she ice skates and skateboards so she has a bit of an idea but wants to really make a good impression. So, she manages to open up to Fee and ask for their help, which was really brave of her. But, Daya takes this opportunity to ask Fee to rough her up a bit while she's on the skates, so that she gets used to it. When Fee tells her that they will only help her with this if she wears her protective gear (helmet, knee pads, etc.) Daya immediately gets defensive and angry and we get the line "Jesus. So Pushy. Fee was lucky I needed their help on this so badly". This ungratefulness continues into her relationship with her aunt and uncle who took her in after her parents' death, and it's not even just a case of her grieving and being closed off about her feelings and her pain, it's just her being mean and ungrateful. But what was the last straw for me was the tryouts. Actually, even before then, when she meets Kat and asks when tryouts are there's one of those ridiculous scenes that sounds like it came out of those 'and everybody clapped' Tumblr text posts - it made me cringe so bad, but it wasn't anything awful and I could easily look past it. But Daya's attitude at the tryouts was so horrible, especially since the other people trying out would potentially be on her team in the future. The tryouts start with a speed test, and Daya isn't the fastest, but she also isn't the slowest, though this isn't a huge problem as there's much more to the sport than that. Following the test, all the hopefuls are sat down and they're asked how many of them would like to play the position of jammer. Some of the girls sitting there are confused, and are obviously newbies to the sport, but Daya just sits there thinking 'Jesus, at least do your homework, I thought, with a little smugness', as if she also knew absolutely nothing about the sport like a week ago. Then, in the more physical bit of tryouts, Daya is partnered up with a girl called Gwen, who Daya immediately pegs as being rude and unfriendly (pot, kettle much?). The two have to push against each other to test their stance and maintain their ground, but Gwen is much stronger than she looks, so Daya has to put in more effort. At one point Gwen moves back a little and Daya falls (not injuring herself, FYI), but no one else notices. Daya is fuming at this and at their next attempt Daya uses all her strength to (almost purposely) injure Gwen. Gwen "hit[s] the deck like a sack of bones (which she kind of was), with her helmet knocking the ground and her face twisting in pain" (that's I direct quote, by the way. When she is confronted about it by members of the team she acts superior to Gwen, saying that if someone's pissing you off you have to deal with it. When she's told that it's not okay and to take a minute outside, she immediately starts playing the victim, yet when Shanti comes to talk to her, she tells Daya that it's pretty much guaranteed that she'll make the team. After that chapter I just couldn't continue any more I was that annoyed with Daya! This may just be a personal issue, so if it doesn't seem like something that would make your reading experience less than great, I fully encourage you to pick this book up!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steve Dunk

    Minor spoilers... Bruised, a new book from Tanya Boteju, doesn’t look to solve any of the bigger world issues that plague our daily lives, it’s more concerned with the six inches in front of your face. Or more specifically, how the day-to-day act of being a part of society while at the same time immune to its whims, can cause someone who’s experienced trauma to be a “walking dead” type of character. Sorry for the dramatics, but that’s what Daya is doing, she’s existing in our world, but not livi Minor spoilers... Bruised, a new book from Tanya Boteju, doesn’t look to solve any of the bigger world issues that plague our daily lives, it’s more concerned with the six inches in front of your face. Or more specifically, how the day-to-day act of being a part of society while at the same time immune to its whims, can cause someone who’s experienced trauma to be a “walking dead” type of character. Sorry for the dramatics, but that’s what Daya is doing, she’s existing in our world, but not living in it. Part of this contract we all sort of agree to is that participating in society is a give and take proposition. And Daya has decided to put up a wall between her and everyone else, not letting anyone get close to her. Because she’s learned that it’s only when you start losing things, is when you realize you have something to lose. So rather than risk that heartbreak again. “What was left when my muscles and skills were stripped away? I worried the answer was…not enough.” This rawness, this skewed sense of “toughness” is a behaviour she both inherited and learned from her Thatha. A person who generally viewed a lack of “toughness”, whether it be physical or emotional, as a weakness that won’t get you very far in life. This skewed world view manifested itself in many ways, but in the case of Daya’s Thatha, he was a “sports dad”. You know those guys that sit in the stands and yell at their kids? That’s him. So, after the accidental death of both her Thatha and Amma, Daya reacts the way she was taught to, with a willful indifference. Her mind activates self-protect mode, something we all have, closing off any chance of self-exposure which will prevent vulnerability. Often, when you become a shut in and don’t open yourself to external stimuli, love, friendship, joy, you’ll do almost anything to “feel” something, to feel human. Daya takes to self-harm to satisfy this need. Now, this is a difficult subject no doubt and Tanya handles it well, neither exploiting it nor running away from it. For Daya, she takes to bruising herself, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. Up until now, this was through non-team high accident-prone sports like skateboarding, but as the cover and summary states, she discovers roller derby. And that shot of self-inflicted pain is the sweetest one yet. So, as she enters this new world, the question becomes, how long can she sustain this behavior before it destroys her? The battle for Daya’s soul is being fought on a few fronts but most effectively by sisters Kat and Shanti, members of the “Killa Honeys” roller derby team. Kat is the tough, show no emotion captain of the team who at first seems more like Daya’s type. Shanti is her younger, softer, more emotionally available sister who is the team’s manager/helper. Tanya spins a nice web here, creating this push/pull between the two as they want different things from, and for, Daya. Kat sees herself in Daya, tough, take no bullshit, emotionally hardened. Shanti “likes” Daya and has enough empathy to see there’s more going on there besides anger. “So let’s go.” It’s Shanti who Daya thinks about the most and who in return seems like both the right, and wrong, choice for her. But the heart wants what the heart wants and slowly Shanti begins to take hold of Daya in a way she’s never felt before. This is the romance aspect of the book and it’s soft and sweet for the most part as Daya isn’t so much Questioning at this point, just numb. Shanti is able to break through and how Daya reacts provides for some nice moments in the book. Daya’s guardians are her Aunt and Uncle, Priam and Vicki who are a force unto themselves and provide for most of the books’ humor. They’re great, they’re fun, and they love Daya, but their relationship is mostly an awkward series of attempts and fails on their part. “A force so gentle and consistent I hadn’t even noticed it was there.” But it’s through them she will eventually find some resolution and understand that father doesn’t always know best, and that her mother was perhaps tougher than he was. Daya’s guilt isn’t rational but it is overwhelming and doesn’t exactly encourage healthy behavior as we’ve talked about, and that includes how she views her Amma. Turns out she quietly moved mountains for her only child, but Daya’s Thatha had her so mixed up, it went unnoticed. Yes, thanks to Priam and Vicki, she’s starting to learn that self-forgiveness is essential if she is to find enjoyment in life and relationships. I can’t stress enough how important this relationship is, the one between her and Priam and Vicki. Bruised is a story about family, love, loss, and all that comes with being a young person still finding their way. It’s wonderfully saccharine and emotionally resonant at the same time, perfectly suited for the YA audience. I particularly enjoyed Tanya’s examination of “found family” and how sometimes they choose you, and just letting that happen can be a wonderful thing. And in the end, with the help of this new “family”, Daya’s best self, while still a work in progress, is a combination of both her mother and her father, a combination of both Kat and Shanti. Like Rizzo, tough but tender. And while she’s still getting used to tender, with the help of Shanti, she’s liking more and more each day. Bruised isn’t a grand bit of fiction, it’s quite basic in its mandate in that you get what you give. It’s a little slice-of-life tale about how hard the world can be, but, if you open yourself up to it, sometimes it can be pretty okay.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jilli | THE LONG LOST TARGARYEN

    ❝Cement walls don’t fall so easily.❞ I was extremely excited for Tanya Boteju’s next book so I took the disappointment pretty badly and was ready to ‘dnf’ but if you want to dnf then simply, DON'T. Don't dnf it. I'm glad I kept pushing off till chapter 34 where I finally understood where Daya, the protagonist, was coming from. It took me quite some time to begin to understand her but now ❛Bruised❜ is a definite 8 out of 10. ❁ Representation: Queer and questioning character of unspecified sexual or ❝Cement walls don’t fall so easily.❞ I was extremely excited for Tanya Boteju’s next book so I took the disappointment pretty badly and was ready to ‘dnf’ but if you want to dnf then simply, DON'T. Don't dnf it. I'm glad I kept pushing off till chapter 34 where I finally understood where Daya, the protagonist, was coming from. It took me quite some time to begin to understand her but now ❛Bruised❜ is a definite 8 out of 10. ❁ Representation: Queer and questioning character of unspecified sexual orientation, Side non-binary and queer characters ❁ Sri Lankan Americans and side characters of varied ethnicity ❁ Teen/Young adult, Romance ☠ Content warnings: Self-mutilation, PTSD, Death of parents (orphaned mc) ➲Characters: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10) ➲Plot: ★★★★★★ (6/10) ➲Writing:★★★★★★★ (7/10) ➲Pacing: ★★★★★★★★★ (9/10) ➲Overall: ★★★★★★★ (7/10) Reviewed on 6th April ═ ₪₪₪₪₪═════════ᴘʟᴏᴛʟɪɴᴇ✏ Daya Wijesinghe sees bruises as a way to concentrate on the pain outside her body and ignore the hurt inside. Death of one's parents is hard to bear but it's quite something else when you feel responsible for it. Skateboarding is Daya’s coping mechanism, how she gets through her day without crushing under the weight of her guilt. The bruises sprinkling across her skin and colouring her body in purple, blue and black not just make it easier to focus on external pain but she feels that's she deserves it and that it makes her stronger. So she keeps skateboarding, tries to maintain an almost cordial relationship with her effusive Uncle Priam and Aunt Vicki, and raises cement walls against everyone except her only friend Fee, pushing the hurt deeper and deeper, hoping that it will nestle so deep inside her that no one will see it. That no one will understand how rotten she is inside. That no one exploit the weakness at her core. When Fee introduces her to roller derby, a game played on quad-style skates, watching the skaters full body clash into one another seems to be just another opportunity to collect dark bruises and nothing more. Roller derby brings with it not only the aggressiveness of the sport but also the eccentric ex-rivals-now-lovers sapphic couple Bee and Yolanda, the finesse skaters Alma and Joe, the team and Shanti. While Daya tries to wreck herself at skateboarding, making the tryouts and collecting bruises, she struggles to keep her feelings for Shanti at bay. Shanti, like her name which means ‘peace’ in Sanskrit, is everything opposite to Daya. When their relationship starts to grow and Shanti starts to draw out the softness inside Daya it scares her. ═ ₪₪₪₪₪ ═════════ Using a wide range of flawed and grey characters, Tanya Boteju brings out the integral message of the story: there is strength in imperfections. Throughout the story we get insight into Daya’s past. Her father kept pushing her towards athleticism and encouraged her to be tough but along the way Daya developed a false understanding of the meaning of tough. I honestly hated Daya at the beginning. Unlike other protagonists, we don't get much of an insight about the why behind her actions-until the blessed chapter 34 when I finally understood why Daya was trying so hard to look tough. (view spoiler)[For a long time Daya believed that her parents died in the car crash because they had been arguing about how badly she'd lost the match when the car veered out of control. She not only wants to be tough because she doesn't ever want to be weak and lose but also because she thinks of it as a sort of punishment. (hide spoiler)] Daya’s father is quite a prick. Even though his intentions were well meant but he kept pushing Daya too hard unnecessarily and her mother didn't do much of a job standing up for her but even though that's how imperfect families are there's still love. ❝Before my mum died, I hadn’t been able to see all the ways she loved me. I should have seen how her real strength was in the way she gently held space for both my dad and me—how little she needed muscles and force and fists to make us feel safe.❞ Joining the Killa Honeys roller derby team pushes Daya towards understanding bigger truths: that there are numerous ways to be strong and people are strong in their own way; that there is toughness in Shanti’s quiet resistance to bullying, strength in her own mother's caring; that softness doesn't necessarily equate to weakness; that it's okay to breakdown sometimes and that love, loss, strength and healing all come hand-in-hand. It feels treasonous to say so but my favourite parts in the story were the roller derby. The intense skating, the gender inclusivity of the sport and the overall team spirit was amazing. And then there's the romance aspects of the novel: cute, tender, slow but I wanted to pull out my hair sometimes... ❥ ❝Gentle and soft like I’d always thought being with a girl would be, but also strong and crushing and deep in ways I hadn’t imagined.❞ As a person who is still coping with recovery from self harm I must say that I was surprised by the psychology behind Daya’s self harm. Tanya Boteju captured Daya’s character pretty well. Although I don't know whether I'll be rereading ❛Bruised❜ but it's a book which will stay with me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    4.25 Stars. This was a good read. I have wanted a queer roller derby book for a couple of years now. I’ve always been fascinated by the sport and thought the fast paced feel and excitement would translate well into a book. When I heard about Bruised, I knew it was a must read 2021 book for me. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed and this was the enjoyable book I was hoping for. The title of this book Bruised, actually comes from the main character, Daya, self-harming. She can’t deal with 4.25 Stars. This was a good read. I have wanted a queer roller derby book for a couple of years now. I’ve always been fascinated by the sport and thought the fast paced feel and excitement would translate well into a book. When I heard about Bruised, I knew it was a must read 2021 book for me. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed and this was the enjoyable book I was hoping for. The title of this book Bruised, actually comes from the main character, Daya, self-harming. She can’t deal with her grief, and has no outlet for her pain, so she pushes it down almost to the point of being in a zombie like state to just get through her day. She has to stay strong and when the pain and grief inside becomes too much, she hurts herself doing sporting activities. When Daya sees just how tough roller derby women are, and the kind of bruises she could get playing, Daya desperately wants to make the team. But Daya does not count on falling for a girl who is sweet and kind named Shanti. Can Shanti show Daya that there are other ways to be strong? One of my goals for 2021 is to read more YA and this is the kind of YA that I like. I like YA books that have all the feels. I like stories that will get me smiling one minute, and tearing up the next and that’s what this book did. This book does cover some tough subjects like self-harm, emotional abuse, and grief, and I definitely went through a few tissues at one point, but overall the book didn’t feel too heavy or depressing. The mix of roller derby and a sweet romance really balanced everything out well and you really care about Daya’s journey. I thought the romance was very sweet and done well. It was a bit more angsty than I expected, but with everything Daya was going through it made sense. While this book is YA, most of the characters are in their early 20’s. Daya is 18, but only still in high school since she lost too much time and had to make up some of her studies. This book almost felt a little bit more verging on NA territory, but I’m not a good judge about that. The romance was mostly PG, but it is a teeny, tiny bit more explicit than some of the other YA’s I’ve been reading lately. The derby aspects were fun to read about and done well. I think it was clear that Boteju did her homework. I could easily picture the bouts in my mind. I’m a huge sports fan and I really like roller derby, but I think even non-sports fans or people who have never seen derby before would have no problems reading this book. If anything, my one slight complaint is that I could have used a little more skating. I could have used at least one more exciting bout, but I always want more sports in my books. Overall, this was a read I really enjoyed and I would easily recommend it. I would especially recommend it to people who don’t mind book about grief, like sweet romances, and a little sports action in their books. This book was wonderfully diverse and perfectly queer, and I hope Boteju will write more books like this. A copy was given to me for a review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    I loved this book so freaking much. Easily a fave of 2021, I'm calling it. Daya Wijesinghe is trying to deal with her parents death. She finds that bruising herself gives her a level of control and comfort from her trauma. When her friend Fee takes her to a roller derby match, Daya is instantly intrigued and knows she needs to get on the team. She knows the level of contact and strength is what she's craving. But she'll also come to find that there's different types of strengths and that being p I loved this book so freaking much. Easily a fave of 2021, I'm calling it. Daya Wijesinghe is trying to deal with her parents death. She finds that bruising herself gives her a level of control and comfort from her trauma. When her friend Fee takes her to a roller derby match, Daya is instantly intrigued and knows she needs to get on the team. She knows the level of contact and strength is what she's craving. But she'll also come to find that there's different types of strengths and that being part of team is different than playing for yourself. I loved Daya, her response to emotional trauma is very similar to Nesta Archeron, who I love. So if you loved the emotional journey in A ​Court of Silver Flames, then you need to see this one. Daya reminded me of myself many times, especially with how she approaches and deals with emotional vulnerability. There were a few times I wanted to shake her, but it always came from a place of love. Daya's friendship with Fee made me so freaking happy. Fee is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns and deals with misgendering a couple times during the book. Daya fiercely protects them which I loved, even though solving problems with fists is not recommended. There was also a nonbinary person on the roller derby team, which I loved. There was some misgendering when the team was referred to as girls that slipped in the narrative. It only happened a couple times, but I wish that had been noticed and changed to something more gender neutral. I loved Daya and Shanti's relationship. It was just so cute and everything I wanted. *Insert crying* I think Daya has some internal homophobia to deal with as well, because she made a small internal comment in the very beginning. May have been denial, but I did want to note it. Another thing I loved about this book is how much it normalizes different trauma responses. While Daya and Kat have a similar trauma response, Shanti has a completely different one. And we see Daya realize that that's completely fine and there's nothing wrong with having a different response to a traumatic situation. Also the rep in this book!! I freaking loved it. Daya is Sri Lankan, Fee is also Brown (I don't believe their ethnicity is said). On the roller derby team, there are several other BIPOC characters and one manager is mentioned as wearing an Indigenous AF button. Fee's girlfriend, Caihong, is Asian and deaf. Cai and Fee both use sign language throughout the book. I wish every book was as diverse as this one was. And round of applause for the positive therapy aspect! Though it is illustrated that therapy only can help if the person in it is willing to put in the emotional work and a willing participant. In the beginning, we see that Daya is not ready for it, but throughout the book we see her begin to open up which was the best. Overall, this was fucking phenomenal and I need to read Boteju's other book immediately.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I really like Derby. Like many people who like the sport I found out about it thanks to Elliot Page and Whip it. In college I attended several of my friends' games when she played and was super into it. Then after I transitioned, I thought about trying out myself, but unfortunately I am not particularly gifted when it comes to hand-eye coordination. But I still like the sport and was excited for a book covering it! And I thought this was a really cool book! It had all the action scenes you would I really like Derby. Like many people who like the sport I found out about it thanks to Elliot Page and Whip it. In college I attended several of my friends' games when she played and was super into it. Then after I transitioned, I thought about trying out myself, but unfortunately I am not particularly gifted when it comes to hand-eye coordination. But I still like the sport and was excited for a book covering it! And I thought this was a really cool book! It had all the action scenes you would want out of a sport themed YA novel, and the feel good aspect of a romantic plotline, but it encountered some real issues as well. The book centers around Daya, who is self harming by repeatedly bruising herself after surviving and blaming herself for an accident that killed her parents. And over the course of the book we see her encounter her inner demons and learn the difference between strength and toughness. I found how the book handles Daya's pain- both physical and psychological very moving. I also really liked the metaphor of her joining derby for what were the wrong reasons, but it becoming the catalyst for her growth to be powerful. The book has some wonderful side characters too. Shanti- Daya's love interest is a really interesting character and I loved seeing how she pushed Daya to get better. and Fee- Daya's best friend was wonderful. Everyone needs a Fee in their life. Daya's aunt and uncle are a hoot as well. (view spoiler)[ as a sidenote, I was really tickled when it came to Daya's (accidental) coming out scene and her not understanding the "friend of Dorothy" reference, as it reminded me of when I made a similar joke a couple years ago when my teenage cousin came out to me. I said "Oh I didn't know one of your friends was Dorothy" and she totally didn't get it. So that whole scene was very amusing on a personal level. (hide spoiler)] If I have any criticisms about the book, it all seemed to resolve a little quickly to me. It's very cliche "everything is fixed in the last 5% of the book" kind of way. It did still make me feel good though. Also the relationship between Daya and Shanti wasn't a main plot in the book, but I might have liked a little more buildup to them getting together. This was a really enjoyable book and I'm definitely interested in things Boteju might write in the future! Solid 4/5

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angelina

    Rating: 4/5 I'm in love with this cover!!! Okay so besides this cover being one of the best things to grace my eyeballs, this was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 and well, it wasn't a new all-time favorite but I still really enjoyed it! One of my favorite aspects of this book is all of the representation! There are so many queer characters, a nonbinary character, a hard-of-hearing character, and so many beautiful sapphic relationships, as well as a Sri Lankan main character and Asian side Rating: 4/5 I'm in love with this cover!!! Okay so besides this cover being one of the best things to grace my eyeballs, this was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 and well, it wasn't a new all-time favorite but I still really enjoyed it! One of my favorite aspects of this book is all of the representation! There are so many queer characters, a nonbinary character, a hard-of-hearing character, and so many beautiful sapphic relationships, as well as a Sri Lankan main character and Asian side characters/love interest!!! I loved the main character Daya and I really related to her on a lot of levels, although the main complaint that I see with this book is that they find her annoying and unlikable, which I totally get. But I loved her, and seeing her grow and learn things just made me so happy!! I also felt like all of the side characters served a purpose and were all well fleshed out for how short this book is and considering it is a YA contemporary. Also, the roller derby aspect of this book was immaculate (coming from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about the sport but is very intrigued to try it out)! CW: self-harm, parental death, mentions of domestic abuse, grief, bullying One aspect of Daya's character arc that I really loved was her and therapy. At the beginning of the book she doesn't want to be there or talk about her feelings, and by the end she is open to talking and growing. I really loved this because I think more books need to talk and discuss therapy and show it in a positive light while still being realistic. Because most people who are forced into therapy aren't very receptive to it and they have to choose for themselves to attend and participate. Something that did bring my rating of this book down was the self-harm aspect. While I felt that the author did an okay job at establishing that self-harm is bad, all of the side characters who notice just brush it off and don't say anything, which I felt to be kinda problematic. And nothing is really done or said about it until the last couple of pages and I'm talking about the last couple of pages. All in all, I really enjoyed reading this and wish I had read it a couple of years ago!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    *I received a copy of this via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* After surviving a car accident that killed her parents, Daya has spent every moment seeking pain as a way to feel something other than emptiness. Whether it's throwing herself into skateboarding or bashing her hand into her headboard, she uses her bruises as a way to feel alive but soon she finds that's not enough. When she discovers roller derby, Daya believes she's finally found something to keep her emotional turmoil at *I received a copy of this via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* After surviving a car accident that killed her parents, Daya has spent every moment seeking pain as a way to feel something other than emptiness. Whether it's throwing herself into skateboarding or bashing her hand into her headboard, she uses her bruises as a way to feel alive but soon she finds that's not enough. When she discovers roller derby, Daya believes she's finally found something to keep her emotional turmoil at bay. Not the most social person, Daya is at first hesitant at the thought of being on a team, but the allure of all the hard-hitting contact is too great an opportunity to pass up. The more time she spends with the rest of the girls, not to mention a budding romance with the soft-spoken shy team manager, the more Daya starts to open up to a whole new world of emotions. The road to healing will be a long one, but for the first time, it's one that Daya is looking forward to skating down. I didn't know much about this going into it, and while I can appreciate the topics it dealt with, this just wasn't for me. Daya was taught her whole life to be tough and that any sign of being emotional was to be taken as a weakness. This leads her to be very abrasive and hard-headed which made her came across as being very mean. I understand that she went through a lot and that she feels as if these cement walls she placed around herself are the only way to deal with her issues, but her actions made her feel unlikable. Everyone around her tries to help her and she just completely shuts them all out and instead turns to really unhealthy means of letting out her aggression. I did like watching her inevitably grow by the end, but I just wish it happened sooner. There were some bits I liked, namely all the representation throughout and the actual roller derby aspect. I don't know much about the sport besides the movie Whip It, so it was fun and exciting to learn more. Overall, this is a story about grief and healing from loss, and despite it not working for me, I still think it'd be an impactful read for someone else.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Liralen

    Three and a half stars and also, hurray roller derby. I love the aggressive push for intersectionality in Boteju's books, and (this might seem like a little thing, but it's not) that the nonbinary characters are casually introduced as 'they' and 'them' rather than giving their full backstories and assigned genders and all of that. I look forward to the day when books with heavy roller derby elements don't have to spend a lot of time explaining roller derby to the characters/readers, but that's n Three and a half stars and also, hurray roller derby. I love the aggressive push for intersectionality in Boteju's books, and (this might seem like a little thing, but it's not) that the nonbinary characters are casually introduced as 'they' and 'them' rather than giving their full backstories and assigned genders and all of that. I look forward to the day when books with heavy roller derby elements don't have to spend a lot of time explaining roller derby to the characters/readers, but that's not a book flaw—that's a not-enough-people-are-familiar-with-roller-derby flaw. Anyway, Daya is grieving...or, perhaps more accurately, doing her best to avoid grieving following the loss of her parents. Her outlet is bruises, self-injury style, and when she learns about roller derby it seems like a great way to collect more bruises and unleash some aggression while she's at it. Daya's a little hit or miss for me sometimes: I'm sort of over the whole YA I-blame-myself-for-a-car-crash-that-wasn't-my-fault thing (and I've read enough YA to tell you that it is indeed a thing), and that plus having two derby girls instantly fighting for her affections (sort of) made her feel a bit Mary-Sue-ish at times, in a kind of fanfictiony way. Some of the issues also need more time to resolve than they have—I struggle to see Daya coming around so quickly from 'if you knock me over I will fuck you up' to 'guess I'd better learn to be a team player'; we don't really have a chance to learn who most of her teammates are or what makes them tick; and considering that by the end of the book Daya is only barely learning to open up, I'm not sure she's in a great place to start a relationship. (Things I say all the time about YA books: if you just cut out the pesky romance, there'd be so much more space for... Though, also, the romance is cute, so I can't complain too much.) It's not egregious, though, and I'll still cheerfully read whatever Boteju comes up with next. Also. Roller derby. Did I mention the roller derby?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    [ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review] Full disclosure to start: I’ve been quad skating since for about a year and a half now, so I went into this with an extra level of intrigue and excitement. In this novel, our main character Daya is dealing with (by aggressively *not* dealing with) the death of her parents. She has taken to bruising herself and skateboarding to try and distract herself from feeling any sort of way about her life. Then, she stumbles upon the world of roller derby whi [ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review] Full disclosure to start: I’ve been quad skating since for about a year and a half now, so I went into this with an extra level of intrigue and excitement. In this novel, our main character Daya is dealing with (by aggressively *not* dealing with) the death of her parents. She has taken to bruising herself and skateboarding to try and distract herself from feeling any sort of way about her life. Then, she stumbles upon the world of roller derby which she hopes will provide a better outlet for injuring herself. With her teammates and an unexpected crush, Daya gets more than she bargained for than just a new way to get hurt. Tanya Boteju has crafted an incredibly thoughtful and powerful story about not only grief, but the way our brains warp and distort memories of those who we’ve lost. There are a lot of flashbacks where Daya remembers things her parents said to her, the ways her parents acted towards her, and how all of that informs how she chooses to live her life now. It gets dark, as expected, but it never feels hopeless. Boteju is able to thread this needle so well and draws you in to root for Daya while also wanting her to just communicate with those in her life. Where I felt this book stumble a little was that there was not enough skating or derby as I had been expecting. I wanted to see even more of Daya learning how to be on a team while skating, not just in outside events. I fully acknowledge that this is probably because I skate, but between the cover and the premise, I expected more. Reading about Daya learning to skate with her teammates and the other rookies would have added so much to her journey. I just needed more skating and more of her team. Filling out the rest of the team even a little bit more would have helped the story feel more lived-in. This book was a beautiful look at dealing with grief and finding healthy and unhealthy coping methods. 4.5 stars rounded down

  26. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    *I was provided with an ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Roller derby? Queer? POC? Hard-hitting contemporary? This book has it all! Daya's parents died in a car accident but to avoid feeling all the emotions that come with grief, Daya seeks out ways to inflict pain and form bruises on her skin. Bruises hurt but they numb the pain of grief. Typically Daya skateboards as a way to get the bruises but lately it has not been having the effect that Daya is looking for. When her *I was provided with an ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Roller derby? Queer? POC? Hard-hitting contemporary? This book has it all! Daya's parents died in a car accident but to avoid feeling all the emotions that come with grief, Daya seeks out ways to inflict pain and form bruises on her skin. Bruises hurt but they numb the pain of grief. Typically Daya skateboards as a way to get the bruises but lately it has not been having the effect that Daya is looking for. When her friend brings her to a roller derby bout, Daya is amazed. These girls are fierce, strong, and get a lot of bruises. Maybe roller derby will be the solution to all Daya's problems? Or maybe roller derby will present its own challenges. In the beginning, I was not invested in this book. I was so excited for the roller derby aspect as it is a sport that I feel is so underappreciated and underrepresented. I quickly became annoyed with Daya because of her stubbornness. However, I did push on because I was so excited about the roller derby. I am so glad that I did push on. Daya's stubbornness was essential for the plot of the book and as the story progressed I just wanted to give her a hug, or buy her a drink. I loved absolutely every single character, although I wish we got to know Fee and their girlfriend more (possible side story option?), I also want a sequel about Kat! The roller derby was so thrilling and exciting! The characters were all intriguing and sweet and hilarious and adorable. My initial reservations about this book did bring my rating down but by the end of the story, my rating went up to a 4 star. Also, the cover art is absolutely stunning!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jill Jemmett

    Since Daya’s parents died in a crash that she survived, she has given herself bruises. She keeps bruising herself so she can physically feel the emotional pain from losing her parents. Daya learns about roller derby teams, and she realizes that’s an activity that will give her lots of bruises. The sport is more physically grueling and painful than she expected. She idolizes the star of the team, Kat, and she befriends Kat’s sister, Shani. Roller derby opens up Daya to exploring her own feelings Since Daya’s parents died in a crash that she survived, she has given herself bruises. She keeps bruising herself so she can physically feel the emotional pain from losing her parents. Daya learns about roller derby teams, and she realizes that’s an activity that will give her lots of bruises. The sport is more physically grueling and painful than she expected. She idolizes the star of the team, Kat, and she befriends Kat’s sister, Shani. Roller derby opens up Daya to exploring her own feelings and finding her personal strength. This was a coming of age story. Daya had to learn to accept the death of her parents, and she also was coming to understand her own romantic feelings. Daya blamed herself for her parents’ death, since she survived their car crash, so she self harms by bruising herself. Daya also discovered her sexual identity. She became vulnerable by beginning a relationship with a girl that she didn’t expect to have. Daya had a lot to discover about herself in this story. Despite the serious subject matter for most of the book, there were some entertaining characters. Daya’s aunt and uncle who were her guardians were quirky actors. They would dance and play games without worrying about how they looked to the outside world. Daya met some older characters through her roller skating. They were former roller skaters who still liked to get dressed up and help the younger skaters. They were all funny characters who lightened the mood of the story. This was a great young adult story! Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    emery

    TW // self harm, parental death, grief, emotional abuse I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! This book genuinely blew me away. I have read Tanya’s other book, Kings, Queens and In-Betweens, before and I could tell she was going to become one of my favourite authors. The way she writes characters and their interactions and hardships, speaks to a deep place inside me. This book feels so important. When I was in my early teens, I had friends who did roller derby and TW // self harm, parental death, grief, emotional abuse I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! This book genuinely blew me away. I have read Tanya’s other book, Kings, Queens and In-Betweens, before and I could tell she was going to become one of my favourite authors. The way she writes characters and their interactions and hardships, speaks to a deep place inside me. This book feels so important. When I was in my early teens, I had friends who did roller derby and because I suffer from chronic pain, I was never able to join myself. This book made me feel like I was finally part of that world I had been so interested in years ago. I also really strongly appreciated the way she wrote grief and self harm. I saw myself in Daya, as well as Shanti and Fee! It felt like these characters were all little pieces of myself and that made the reading experience even more magical and emotional! I loved that the characters were flawed but worked on those flaws and started to view things differently as the book went on. Also, the representation in this made my heart sing! Being a nonbinary person who identifies (recently) as a lesbian, seeing that representation of a character using they/them pronouns and a sapphic relationship really hit home with me! I would highly recommend this book!! Last point is that Tanya is from the same city as me and that makes me feel an overwhelming amount of pride for her and her books! I may not know her personally, but it makes me so happy to see her do well!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Angel

    3.5 Stars. This was a highly emotional read and I must admit that there were hilarious moments in it but there was a lot of angst and drama to get through as well. I was drawn to this story because I didn't know anything about roller derby and I was definitely curious and what made this story even more appealing to me was the fact that there were queer, young-adult people of color in this story. My heart really went out to Daya because she has lost her parents in a car accident and she turned to 3.5 Stars. This was a highly emotional read and I must admit that there were hilarious moments in it but there was a lot of angst and drama to get through as well. I was drawn to this story because I didn't know anything about roller derby and I was definitely curious and what made this story even more appealing to me was the fact that there were queer, young-adult people of color in this story. My heart really went out to Daya because she has lost her parents in a car accident and she turned to self-harm as a way of coping with their untimely demise. However, I felt as though self-harm was being glorified because most of the story portrayed Daya's intense joy whenever she was being physically hurt by her own actions and by others. There is definitely a powerful message within this story because Daya eventually learned to deal with her grief and she also learned that there are different kinds of strength and she even falls for a wonderful girl named Shanti (I think she has the biggest heart ever!) I was thoroughly entertained by the side characters on the Killa Honeys roller derby team and I have so much love for Fee and Caihong, Daya's friends from the skateboard park. I also loved the way Daya found her new "chosen family" in the company of the Killa Honeys roller derby team, especially when she least expected it. Without a doubt, this is a poignant young-adult novel, however, I wished the author had focused more on Daya's healing and her coming to terms with her parents' death because most of the story was focused on Daya's anger, frustration and self-harm.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Weirdly convenient timing — they go to one game, the tryouts are the next week, and then it’s the season opener? These characters are oddly flat. And Daya fully ditched her BFF with no mention... In Bruised, by Tanya Botejy, Daya is living with her aunt and uncle after living through the car crash that killed her parents. Searching for a way to acquire more bruises that help distract her from their loss and her guilt, she stumbles upon roller derby and is soon swept up in a world of roller skates, Weirdly convenient timing — they go to one game, the tryouts are the next week, and then it’s the season opener? These characters are oddly flat. And Daya fully ditched her BFF with no mention... In Bruised, by Tanya Botejy, Daya is living with her aunt and uncle after living through the car crash that killed her parents. Searching for a way to acquire more bruises that help distract her from their loss and her guilt, she stumbles upon roller derby and is soon swept up in a world of roller skates, puns, and rockabilly badass women. The good: Bruised describes roller derby in such a vibrant, exciting way that everyone reading it will surely want to lace up their skates and hit the rink. The bad: The characters, though delightfully diverse in race, gender, and orientation, are oddly flat, full of backstory and reasons for their behavior, but oddly devoid of internal life. The ugly: This book handles some intense, tough topics, including parent death and self-harm. Daya's emotional journey throughout the book feels a little rushed, but these topics are handed, for the most part, with a fair amount of care. This was an overall somewhat disappointing read, but fans of roller derby will surely be happy to see their sport so lovingly depicted on the page. Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC! Content warning: self-harm, parental death, car accident, parental abandonment

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