Marcia Strykowski

Roller Boy

New Middle Grade novel from Fitzroy Books.

Mateo always assumed he’d make the baseball team with his buddy Jason, but when only Jason makes the team, his mood sinks low. So low, he knows he has to do something about it. But what? What can he be good at?

When Mateo wins free lessons, he discovers he’s pretty good at roller-skating. And it doesn’t hurt that the most beautiful girl he’s ever laid eyes on happens to be Roller City’s star skater. But still, roller-skating? No way can Jason find out Mateo is whirling around in girly skates–anybody halfway to cool would be hanging at a skate park, on boards or blades.
Other issues stacked against him are the strong reservations of his mother, who feels Mateo should be spending his time studying, not skating, and his inability to eat gluten—no more grabbing a pizza with the guys.
Despite these conflicts, Mateo keeps his sense of humor and channels his innermost strength into an incredible ride on roller skates that just might take him all the way to regionals.
Ages 8 to 14.

Hardcover, paperback, and eBooks are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and may be requested at all Independent Bookstores and libraries.

indie store
barnes and noble

Roller Boy is listed among 11 Great Works of Middle Grade Realistic Fiction! Click HERE to check out all eleven.

What Readers are saying about Roller Boy:

One boy’s journey toward confronting the skeptical voices in his life, both internal and external, and ultimately overcoming them, are at the heart of this entertaining and genuinely heartwarming novel by Marcia Strykowski. It’s a warm and skillfully told story about a boy navigating the confusing waters of middle-school insecurities, bullies, competitors, and a particularly annoying gluten allergy. Highly recommended. –– Josh R.

One skinny 13 year old looks inside and comes up big in this middle grade novel. When people believe in Mateo and help him achieve his dream, he responds by reaching for his courage and finally, showing the world what he’s got. Wonderfully written and powerfully messaged, this book zings with delight at every turn of the page. —Adaela M.

From beginning to end, Roller Boy is pure joy. Author Marcia Strykowski is a master at capturing the middle school voice and bringing main character Mateo Garcia to life. You can’t help but cheer him on as he navigates through disappointments, dangers, unexpected opportunities, and ultimately triumph. The writing and pacing are flawless, making this a great classroom read. I can’t recommend it enough! —Laura C.

Thanks for yet again giving readers such a worthwhile, interesting read. The plot was great, the characters very believable and sympathetic, and the dialogue believable and appropriate. Another thing I liked was that there are no grammatical errors! I’m so tired of reading books that are full of misspellings and grammar/ punctuation errors. (It must be the English teacher in me!) This book was completely well-written–a pleasure in every way! Thank you! —Louise P.

Roller boy is well written, poignant and compelling. Mateo is the kind of main character that you wish you could hang out with in person. He wants more than anything to be on the baseball team, but when he doesn’t make the team, he discovers a new talent. Marcia Strykowski does a great job of getting inside the head of a middle school boy and showing the complexities of his feelings about life. The book addresses friendship, bullies, crushes, talents, family relationships, poverty, single parents, and more. I highly recommend this for boys and girls of all ages. —Kirsti C.

Roller Boy is a fun and heartwarming story about a young boy growing up and finding his place in his community. As a former skater, I loved dipping into this world of jumps, spins, and shoot-the-ducks. It brought back so many wonderful rink-side memories! As a librarian, I was happy to see a younger middle grade novel that will appeal to both boys and girls alike. Mateo is a funny, witty character readers will instantly relate to as he navigates normal thirteen-year-old problems like making friends, getting cut from the team, dealing with unfortunate nicknames and bullies on the block–even handling serious food allergies. The thing that really sets this book apart, though, is its heart. Mateo’s journey from self-conscious benchwarmer to someone who’s proud to call himself “Roller Boy” is remarkable. Kids will love this book! —Rebecca

Strykowski is pitch-perfect with Mateo’s voice, and her insights into the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy are humorous and poignant, a tribute to her writing skill which is demonstrated in all of the believably-drawn characters. Her exciting and fluid descriptions of the skating scenes make one want to lace on a pair of skates and take to the roller rink. Young readers will be encouraged to have hope for their own dreams, despite having to deal all the angst that accompanies middle school existence. Wit, insight, and heart are paramount in this enjoyable read! —Margo

Marcia Strykowski has written a rocking and a rolling new novel. Roller Boy is hard to put down and exciting to the end. Join Mateo and friends as they cruise through everyday roller skating practice to their chance at the tournaments. Highly recommended! —Michelle E.

I have been waiting for the release of Roller Boy, and as soon as I opened the package, I started reading. This book did not disappoint. Great, believable characters, a suspenseful plot and some great life lessons hidden in amongst the fun. I will be recommending this to all of my young friends. –Jill G.

As a children’s librarian, it’s always tough to find books to recommend to boys that don’t want the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Captain Underpants read-alike. Roller Boy definitely fills this niche. This novel is a great choice for boys (and girls) who want a great story that has some depth to it. The characters are relatable and deal with universal issues. I look forward to putting Roller Boy in the hands of many young patrons. —Patty F.


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