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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—from the acclaimed author of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens.

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.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published March 23, 2021

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About the author

Tanya Boteju

3 books239 followers
TANYA BOTEJU is a teacher and writer living on unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, BC). Part-time, she teaches English to clever and sassy young people. The rest of her time, she writes and procrastinates from writing. Her novel, Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (Simon & Schuster, 2019), was named a Top Ten Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association, as well as selected for the American Librarian Association 2020 Rainbow List. Her next YA novel, Bruised (Simon & Schuster, 2021), has been selected as a Gold Standard book by the Junior Library Guild. In both teaching and writing, she is committed to positive, diverse representation. Visit her at tanyaboteju.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 312 reviews
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,699 followers
March 23, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Althea.
421 reviews142 followers
March 29, 2021
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!
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,491 reviews596 followers
March 13, 2021
I loved the ideas incorporated here, but felt like it was trying too hard.
The author attempted to incorporate so many ideas that most of them didn't have a chance to mature.
I think it would have worked better if the author hadn't tried to represent so many themes in one book. Picking 1 or 2 main focuses would have allowed those to breath and develop more naturally.
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for my DRC.

Profile Image for Leo.
4,300 reviews384 followers
October 19, 2022
I loved the way the blurb made it sound like. I wanted to enjoy this mord than I actually did but it want a bad story 3.5 stara
Profile Image for Della B.
536 reviews78 followers
January 21, 2022
Bruised is so much more than a novel about roller derby. It is a deep and thoughtful look at survivor’s guilt of an eighteen year old after loosing her parents in a car accident. It is convincingly written through the POV of Daya dealing with her guilt through self-harm. Daya has constructed an impenetrable wall around herself because if she does not let anyone in she will not lose them too.
Boteju has written Daya’s story with a casual intensity which is quite remarkable. She allows you to drift along in Daya’s indifference to the outside world while simultaneously pulling you deep into her struggles to keep her grief and pain hidden. The end result is this wonderful novel which blew me away.

Kindle Unlimited
Profile Image for alaska.
235 reviews435 followers
March 19, 2022
it’s been scientifically proven that i can’t resist coming of age books that deal with grief and are sapphic. so, obviously, i was ready to get hurt by this book.

you could say i was quite disappointed when i left this book with an empty feeling instead of with full eyes. my expectations for bruised were quite high, but i just needed it to be more; more empowering, more emotional, more everything.

so yeah, despite the diversity being on point, i can’t rate this any higher than two stars.

thank you to the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review! this did not affect my opinions in any way.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,411 reviews389 followers
March 22, 2021
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
Profile Image for elise (the petite punk).
403 reviews118 followers
July 13, 2021
Bruised redefines strength.

Do not be fooled by the gorgeous, pretty pink cover—this is not just a fun book about roller derby. As our main character Daya deals with the death of her parents while also trying to find a place to belong, Bruised tackles heavy themes of grief, self-harm, friendship, and family. This book is great at delving into deep and often unpleasant emotions. I thought the themes of teamwork and sportsmanship was woven nicely into the other themes of family, friendship, and belonging.

Bruised also has a wonderful set of characters (there were almost too many for me to keep track of, but that wasn’t a big issue). There is a wide variety of personalities from people from all sorts of backgrounds. We get anything from emotionally tough and angry characters to overly supportive relatives who just happen to have mini pride flags sitting around when the time was right to celebrate. I really enjoyed the diverse cast of characters, as they were all so intriguing and distinct.

While I typically almost always read YA, I’ve found that I am liking romance plots in YA books that aren’t specifically in romance genre less appealing. As always, I enjoyed seeing a queer relationship (there were actually multiple queer relationships here!) in fiction, but the central romance here felt like it was thrown in towards the second half of the book. I wish it was built up a bit more because it almost felt a bit random to me. It was definitely hinted at in earlier chapters, but I would have liked to see more of Daya working through these emotions before things blew up. I wouldn’t have minded if this book was just about grief and what it means to belong, without some sort of romance.

The other thing I would have changed was how Daya’s self-harm was addressed. To be clear, this issue was addressed. But the book’s first line is an introduction to Daya’s self-harm, and the title of the book is also a reference to this. Self-harm is prevalent throughout the book, so I thought it was going to be a much bigger deal when it was addressed by other characters. I don’t think it was necessarily taken lightly, per say, but it felt like such a big part of the book that I wanted its conclusion to be fleshed out a bit more.

I would recommend Bruised to readers who enjoy YA contemporary fiction that is on the heavier side. If you like authentic, messy, and emotionally-challenged characters who tend to hide their true feelings, this one is for you.

TWs: self-harm, death of parents (car accident in the past), grief

✧ ✧ ✧

≪reading 31 books for 31 days of july≫
╰┈➤ 1. the ones we're meant to find by joan he
╰┈➤ 2. rise to the sun by leah johnson
╰┈➤ 3. some girls do by jennifer dugan
╰┈➤ 4. a heart in a body in the world by deb caletti
╰┈➤ 5. you've reached sam by dustin thao
╰┈➤ 6. radio silence by alice oseman
╰┈➤ 7. swimming in the dark by tomasz jedrowski
╰┈➤ 8. bruised by tanya boteju
Profile Image for Amanda.
83 reviews6 followers
May 25, 2021
As a derby skater, going into this I was excited but wary. I was hopeful for good representation of the sport, but seeing the description of the book it looked like Daya was only using it as a means of self harm, and that idea just didn't sit well with me. Yes, derby is tough, but it's more than bruises and big egos. In the end, I don't know that it was really conveyed that way in this book.

Good things in this book:
-Diversity - LGBTQ+, many races, cultures, and disabilities represented.
-They *did* mention how skaters of all different body types can be good at derby once, I think (though I think for the most part all derby skaters in this story are portrayed as only being super tough and overly aggressive)
-I guess they resolved Daya's attitude and self harm in the very end?

Overall, the bad outweighed the good for me. I hated Daya. She's got a bad attitude, and is just a jerk to everyone through most of the book. Let me just list some examples why.

-She's the worst kind of wannabe derby girl -- angry and "tough", constant negative attitude, combative and egotistical

-Her aunt and uncle try to do something nice for her (buying her boxing equipment), and she acts like an ungrateful brat. I get that it brought up bad memories for her, but her uncle didn't know that since she won't talk to anyone about it. And she still doesn't explain it to him even after she acts like a jerk and makes him feel like he did something wrong.

-Daya, after pretty obviously striking a nerve with Shanti: "This is why I don't hang out with chicks. So damn senstive." AS IF YOU AREN'T BEING SENSITIVE ABOUT EVERYTHING, DAYA

-Daya: "Stats? Really? For roller derby?" Uh yeah, people record stats for roller derby. It's a sport.

-She retaliates violently against another skater at tryouts for a perceived slight because she was embarrassed. She's immature and bitchy. This stunt plus her attitude after being told to take a break would have been a HUGE strike against her at the very first round of derby tryouts.

-She gets to START in her first bout ever, and then complains when she doesn't get to play as much as she wants. That's how it is for a rookie player. Don't be a dick. (Something I actually used to hear at practice a lot. "Don't be a dick." Which would probably be surprising to someone who only knew about roller derby from this book)

The trash talk and dirty play in the bout at the end is completely over the top. I played derby for 6 years before covid and only one or two teams we played against were even close to being like that, and we all hated those teams. It's dangerous and poor sportsmanship. Derby is tough, but we make clean hits and then go have a party with the opposing team after we get done knocking each other around the track. I was disappointed in the way the sport was represented in this story. I've played with women of all different body types, backgrounds, and personalities. This book makes it seem like everyone in derby is tough as nails, aggressive and mean. So I think the author's point of "strength is in the soft parts" isn't conveyed all that well.
May 14, 2021
I unfortunately did not enjoy Bruised but I wish I did!

Whip It was one of my favorite non-horror movies in high school. I watched it over and over again thinking about how cool it would be to be a roller derby girl because the sport just seemed fascinating. Unfortunately though, I am five feet tall, a hundred pounds, and can’t skate to save my life so roller derby has always remained just a fantasy of mine.

It has led me to always picking up any book about roller derby though, which led me to Bruised. I was SUPER excited about this one and put it on hold at my library even before it came out. I enjoy tough subject books too, and I thought the idea of roller derby being a way for the main character to explore her trauma and heal from it added to my interest. Plus I think the cover is great.

However, though I loved all of the descriptions and scenes of roller derby (and the lesbian ex-roller derby ladies were entertaining) I didn’t enjoy much of the rest of the book. I almost DNFed it multiple times but I kept going because I have a hard time quitting a story.

To begin with, the author seems to do more telling than showing at times and there were also moments that seemed like reading one of those online posts where “and then everyone clapped.” It just seemed like this book tried too hard, from a few moments solely there to make a point to some forced dialogue. It tried too hard to be inclusive at the expense of developing the characters. Inclusion is great, but I think it’s important to have DEPTH to characters, and everyone except for the main character Daya was fairly one-dimensional. I mean, I just read the book and I don’t remember much about anyone except surface level details, plus there was not much info at all on the rest of the Killa Honeys team?

Which brings me to one of the biggest issues I had with the book: Daya. I know Daya has gone through trauma and loss, and was also raised to be extremely tough, but she is downright judgy and mean at times. There’s definitely a lot of “not like other girls” happening with her or “this is why I don’t hang out with girls because they’re too sensitive” etc., but the judgements extend beyond girls to basically anyone and everyone she doesn’t like. Her negative attitude makes reading from her perspective hard. Since this is a character driven novel told in first person, liking the main character is a big part of enjoying this kind of book.

It was odd also seeing so many people fawning over Daya despite her not being the easiest person to get along with. There were two girls competing for her affection despite not knowing her that long? The romance also didn’t really develop, it was just suddenly there. I will say at the end of the book Daya has grown a little, but it happens both too quickly yet too late.

That’s what I think ultimately didn’t work for me in this book. Bruised tried to do a bunch of things in a short amount of time. Things were resolved too easily, from Daya and her self-harm to the romance to everything else. I actually personally do not think Daya should be in a relationship at the end of the book based on how much healing and growth she still needs to do. Romance doesn’t heal you, whether it’s a sapphic romance, straight romance, or anything in between. I think this book would have been more powerful had the romance element been taken out and Daya instead had more time to grow, confront her self harm, heal, and learn to open up and to fully show that journey happening.

Overall, others might enjoy this one more than me, but I don’t recommend it, and instead suggest watching Whip It instead.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,408 reviews189 followers
April 11, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Nev.
1,051 reviews136 followers
March 27, 2021
*Takes out megaphone, clears throat* QUEER ROLLER DERBY

Bruised is a pretty heavy coming-of-age story about Daya’s grief after the loss of her parents and how meeting some new people while starting roller derby helps her to open up. In addition to opening up about her grief, one new girl in particular gets Daya to realize new things about her identity.

So much of this book is about Daya self-harming through getting bruised. She’s constantly throwing herself into dangerous situations to use the physical pain to distract her from the death of her parents. Initially she only wants to join a roller derby team because of how brutal it can be. I enjoyed seeing the journey Daya goes on of learning how there’s more to derby outside of the hits. It was also rewarding to see how she starts to talk to people in her life so they can help her deal with her emotions in a healthy way.

The romance between Daya and a new girl she meets through roller derby was nice to see. It wasn’t the main focus of the book, but a nice subplot to watch Daya come to terms with her feelings. While I think that Daya’s love interest and closest friends were fleshed out pretty well, a lot of the other characters on the roller derby blended together in my mind or felt pretty flat. Overall I think this is a pretty impactful YA read about grief and identity.
Profile Image for USOM.
2,412 reviews199 followers
March 24, 2021
(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...
Profile Image for Jamie.
169 reviews53 followers
March 24, 2021
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.

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
Profile Image for The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori).
1,172 reviews1,305 followers
March 28, 2021
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.


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.


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.


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.
Profile Image for Lisa Pineo.
412 reviews29 followers
January 13, 2021
"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.
Profile Image for emery.
114 reviews42 followers
March 8, 2021
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!!
Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 21 books372 followers
November 23, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Mac (bookshelfpalace).
432 reviews4 followers
March 24, 2021
Bruised was on my most anticipated book releases of 2021 list and it definitely did not disappoint. I’ve always loved playing all kinds of different sports growing up and as I got more into reading I grew to love books which included sports. Usually the books I pick up involve sports that I’m familiar with, but roller derby was a completely new sport to me and I couldn’t wait to learn more about it. I learned so much about how roller derby works and all the different terminology that is used. I also learned a lot through my deep dive of watching roller derby videos on Youtube after I finished reading the book.

As for Daia, I absolutely adored her and her friends so much. After Daia loses her parents in a crash she starts using bruises to inflict pain on herself that she can control and to help her forget the pain of losing her parents. Throughout the book you get to see Daia grow so much in so many different ways and I loved reading her story.

I could talk about this book for ages, but I’m going to leave it at this book was absolutely amazing and if you are looking for a new sports book to pick up, I highly recommend Bruised by Tanya Boteju. 5/5 stars without a doubt and I can’t wait to pick up more of Tanya Boteju books in the future!
Profile Image for piper anneliese.
43 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2021
3.5/5 ⭐️
tw- death, self harm
seeing Daya being affected by her grief over her parents and how her childhood shaped who she became with skateboarding and roller derby was powerful. the theme of self harm was extremely overwhelming for me, and I didn’t connect so well with the characters (however i found the side characters so hilarious and quirky- funniest part of this book). I didn’t know much about roller derby before this book, but after reading it I think I need to go see it in real life (it just sounds so fun and badass!!).
Profile Image for cassidy.
52 reviews4 followers
December 13, 2021
I really wanted to like this book, because the premise sounded awesome, but I just couldn’t. Ignoring how obnoxious the main character was, I just found the whole plot so cliche. When you’re writing a (very common at this point) story about someone guarded letting themselves love, you’ve got to do it more seamlessly, more poetically- less blunt and obvious. If I were to count the amount of times “soft” and “hard” were used in this book, I’d be pouring over the pages for hours. Every emotion was explained so plainly, and besides the mature language and events that happened, it felt like it was written for very young kids. It did go quickly- it’d probably take an hour and a half to read in one sitting- but again, that’s because it’s not written well.
The other biggest thing that bothered me was that the author didn’t seem to know anything about roller skating or roller derby. There is a history of it written in the back of the book, which I was very surprised to find because that knowledge does not seem to carry on throughout the rest of the story. For one thing, skateboarding is nothing like roller skating, and just because someone is good on a board does not at all mean you’re good on skates!! I could understand how someone who’d never skated could think that, but in the book, all the girls on the derby team acted as if this was true too, which would never happen in real life. Daya was so bad on skates at the beginning that she didn’t even know how to use her stoppers, and yet the girls on the team somehow thought she’d be perfect for the team…?
I don’t know. I wanted to like- I wanted to LOVE- this book so badly. But I just can’t. I can’t hate it either, because everything did turn out “happily” in the end, the MC got better in headspace and actions, but again, it felt so juvenile. 1 1/2 stars is the most accurate rating in actuality.
Profile Image for Josalynne Balajadia.
331 reviews7 followers
July 8, 2021
This really built on the things I loved about Boteju's writing in Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens. The pacing was a lot tighter and all of the characters felt like real people. Communication and lack thereof was a part of the tension in the novel but it did not bother me as it normally does since the story was about healing and the part communication plays.
Profile Image for Jaye Berry.
1,350 reviews123 followers
May 11, 2021
TW: parental death, self-harm, grief

Okay so we have a banger today.

Bruised is about a girl named Daya who is still grieving after her parents died in a car accident that she survived. She lives her life now being as hard and tough as she can, as she throws herself into skateboarding. When her friend introduces her to roller derby, the only thing she can think of is how hard she'll get hit. After she joins the team, she has to learn how to play well with others and all the human interaction she used to avoid.

This is exactly the kind of book I avoid because I simply cannot deal with characters grieving or anything even hinting at that emotional trauma. So much of this book was still hard for me to read but it was nice, in a messed up cathartic kind of way for me. There were parts and flashbacks I RAN through but I'm only so strong okay!!

But even so I actually kind of loved this book? It was about grief yes but it was also about strength, friendship, and it was gay as hell. Daya is such a tough character because she has to be and seeing her bring her walls down through opening up was pure. She was a rightful MESS who self-harmed to hide from her emotional pain and her journey toward some kind of healing was heartwrenching.

Daya's romance with Shanti was just *chef's kiss*. I didn't expect a romance this fucking cute in this book because it started off so rocky because Daya was oblivious as hell but ??? I am weak for soft f/f and this was 1000% that. It had ups and downs but in general is was just pure and sweet and I love. The entire book was also all about saying that being soft doesn't mean weak and hell yeah I support that message.

I know a weird amount about roller derby because it feels like every cop show from the last 10 years would have episodes just to put the female detective in the game because someone got murdered so like ?? You could say I am an expert yes. I love a game that is run purely by women for women but I would also never do it oh my god I am so fragile and I can't skate for shit. (My roller derby name would be Jaye Stabsby though!)

The diversity in this book was so casual and nice and there were no labels. I'm not listing them but it was refreshing and I stan.

I am surprised to find that I enjoyed this book so much but here we are, friends.
Profile Image for Mac (bookshelfpalace).
432 reviews4 followers
March 24, 2021
Bruised was on my most anticipated book releases of 2021 list and it definitely did not disappoint. I’ve always loved playing all kinds of different sports growing up and as I got more into reading I grew to love books which included sports. Usually the books I pick up involve sports that I’m familiar with, but roller derby was a completely new sport to me and I couldn’t wait to learn more about it. I learned so much about how roller derby works and all the different terminology that is used. I also learned a lot through my deep dive of watching roller derby videos on Youtube after I finished reading the book.

As for Daia, I absolutely adored her and her friends so much. After Daia loses her parents in a crash she starts using bruises to inflict pain on herself that she can control and to help her forget the pain of losing her parents. Throughout the book you get to see Daia grow so much in so many different ways and I loved reading her story.

I could talk about this book for ages, but I’m going to leave it at this book was absolutely amazing and if you are looking for a new sports book to pick up, I highly recommend Bruised by Tanya Boteju. 5/5 stars without a doubt and I can’t wait to pick up more of Tanya Boteju books in the future!
Profile Image for Solly.
447 reviews31 followers
May 23, 2021
Made me tear up, so this gets five stars even if it's not perfect. There's a few scenes that are SO similar to stuff I experienced with self-harm and struggling to open up about stuff that it hurt to read.

Outside of the heavier aspects, I'm also super starved for queer sports books, and this one is really cool on that point, the sport and team are central to the book, and even though I don't actually know much about roller derby I had fun.

The queer rep is great and EVERYWHERE, and I loved Daya and Shanti's romance in this. I loved how all the main characters represented different ideas of what makes a person strong or weak. The theme of "softness is strength too" often gets me and it's pretty much the main point of the book, and especially of Shanti's character.

It definitely has its flaws still (there's a lot going on and I'm not sure everything gets resolved enough but you know what that's life too) and I was like "yeah this is okay" for the first third but in the end I really loved it
Profile Image for Lexi.
479 reviews186 followers
July 13, 2022
The author gets a C- for research. I knew I was getting into some shit when the cover featured "roller derby skaters" in artistic skates, but I shrugged it off as a creative decision.

While the book uses some terms we use (Bracing, "fresh meat," etc. it's by and large, NOT a well-researched book that connects none of the dots of roller derby culture and feels more like a Wikipedia search.

The weirdest part of this whole thing is that roller derby skaters use derby names all the time. I don't even know the real names of friends I've known for years. This is nearly ubiquitous in derby culture, and all these people use their real names constantly. I ended up skimming the book after this. If you aren't even going to get basic shit right, why write about a subculture. This is the boring YA version of whatever The Big Bang Theory is to nerds.
Profile Image for Kristin Kraves Books.
259 reviews129 followers
February 17, 2021
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.
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