Review of Just Roll with It

Just Roll with It
by Lee Durfey-Lavoie; illus. by Veronica Agarwal
Intermediate, Middle School    RH Graphic/Random    336 pp.    g
12/21    978-0-593-12541-0    $20.99
Library ed.  978-1-9848-9700-8   $23.99
Paper ed.  978-1-9848-9699-5    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-1-9848-9701-5    $8.99

In this graphic novel, sixth grader Maggie starts middle school with familiar worries: making friends, confronting bullies, navigating classes. She carries a many-sided die to roll whenever she’s confused, worried, or otherwise at a crossroads, each number corresponding in her mind to an action she should or should not take. Maggie is a gamer and a sci-fi/­fantasy and superhero fan, and she decides to join the school’s RPG (that’s role-playing game, for newbs) afterschool club. She grows comfortable with new like-minded friends — but she’s still reliant on her die. At home, surrounded by her loving, supportive South Asian family, she’s compelled to flick the lights, color-code her books, etc. What’s more, there’s a fierce white dragon in her head that second-guesses her thoughts and psyches her out: “That was all your fault…You can’t do anything right, can you?” Maggie’s compulsions and anxieties are important to the story, but this isn’t a book solely about them. Throughout the tale, illustrated in easy-to-read panel art with bubbly character shapes and subdued hues, we meet engaging secondary characters and even tag along as Maggie and friends help solve a (somewhat unlikely) wildlife mystery. An appended note touches on the book creators’ own experiences with mental illness.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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