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Roll With It by Jamie Sumner is a heartfelt book full of quirky characters. It touches on so many issues: living with a disability, dementia, complex friendships, standing out, and family. But if I were to pinpoint one theme it would be that accepting help and friendship from the people who love you doesn’t threaten your independence.

The Story

Ellie and her mom have just moved into her grandparent’s trailer home to help with her ailing grandfather. But that’s not the only thing Ellie has to worry about. Being the kid in the wheelchair is hard enough without having to add a new school into the mix. Not to mention Ellie is now a trailer park kid. When her neighbors, flamboyant Coralee and super literal Bert, begin hanging out with her, she isn’t sure what to think. But an unlikely friendship begins to form between these three misfits. And as Ellie prepares to enter and win her grandparents’ church annual baking contest, their friendship will face some even greater tests.

What I loved

Three dimensional characters–Roll With It’s main characters are quirky, and it would have been easy to make any one of them a stereotype, but they aren’t. Ellie especially has many facets of her personality. She is determined and self-reliance. She loves baking and has fierce protective instincts for her family.

Prayer–This is not a book from a Christian publisher, but several times, Ellie tries to pray in a very sweet genuine way. It’s obvious that prayer is unfamiliar to her and church is something they only do when with her grandparents, but the prayers are honest and sincere.

Parents should know

There’s a lot of brokenness in this book. Ellie’s parents are divorced, and her relationship with her dad is strained. Coralee feels her mom has abandoned her. Other kids bully Bert. The school system isn’t equipped to help Ellie. But the brokenness portrayed echoes the brokenness in our world. If your kids have been more sheltered, Roll With It may spark some good conversations.

I read this one aloud to my kids age eight and up, and they all loved it. I’d highly recommend this book.

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