Roll by Darcy Miller

In rural Minnesota,  friendship and rolling pigeons combine in an enjoyable middle grade debut novel.  

Roll by Darcy Miller.  HarperCollins, 2017, 224 pages

Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12

Recommended for: ages 10 & up


Ren’s parents have moved to the country, 8 miles away from their small town in Minnesota, and 8 miles away from Ren’s best friend. Eleven-year old Ren isn’t excited: about unpacking, summer vacation, and certainly not about starting track this fall.  

Ren’s attempts at running flag as he gets to know his neighbor, Sutton.  The same age, Sutton is raising rolling pigeons and facing her own dragons. A friendship grows over the summer, centered around Sutton’s pigeons.

Geeky, earnest, and rather awkward, Ren is a great narrator. The story is well-told and highlights the importance of telling the truth, the power of friendship and family, and the pain of growing apart as you grow up. 

Roll is an all-American story.  The only thing that puts it in the 21st century caution-wise is a reference to Sutton’s parents putting the horse before the cart and getting married young.  Refreshingly unpolitical, this is just a story about a boy, a girl, a summer, and quite a lot of pigeons! 

Cautions: (Sexuality: see above paragraph)

Overall rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 4.5
  • Artistic value: 4.75


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Born in a library and raised by books, or rather, raised by a book-loving family, Hayley loves talking and writing about books. She lives in the middle of Wisconsin and works with children as well as with coffee.

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