Katie Fitzgerald reviews Fiorella deMaria’s new contemporary middle grade novel, My Family and Other Skaters.
If you have been dreaming of a well-written, entertaining middle-grade family story with Catholic roots and representation, My Family and Other Skaters by Fiorella De Maria is the book you have been waiting for. First-person narrator Rosaria (“Rose”), named for the Rosary, is a contemporary girl living in the UK with her big Catholic family, which includes her parents and five siblings, the youngest of whom are twin girls with dwarfism. Along with the rest of the kids, Rose’s passion is for ice skating, and she spends most of her free time at the rink near her house, along with her best friend Giuliana and her brother, Hugo, who is Giuliana’s skating partner.
When Giuliana’s parents decide to leave the UK following Brexit, Rosaria is devastated for her own loss, as well as for the changes this would bring for her friend and her brother. Knowing that her mother would never turn down a houseguest, Rose sets out to help Guiliana convince her skeptical parents to let her stay with Rosaria’s family to continue her skating career.
This novel is filled with delightful characters and beautiful demonstrations of Catholic values. Rosaria’s mother has an unparalleled welcoming attitude toward others, to the point that she will open her home to strangers whenever the need arises. Hugo is a staunch defender of his twin sisters’ dignity when others fail to see or uphold it. The characters attend Mass, pray the Rosary, and live out their faith in everything they do. The story does not explicitly preach Catholic values; rather, they are woven into the fabric of the story, informing every piece of the plot.
This is also a really cozy book, and it would be the perfect thing to curl up with on a snow day or during Christmas break from school. Though it’s not a Christmas book, because of the wintry setting I would be inclined to put it in a shoe or stocking from St. Nicholas or wrap it up and put it under the tree for Christmas morning. Though the intended audience is ages 9 to 12, like so many classic family stories, this one would be a wonderful read-aloud for a family to enjoy together.
As I was reading this book, there were multiple bookmarks slipped between its pages. One was mine, but the others belonged to my three oldest daughters, ages 10, 8, and 6, all of whom are reading it independently. It has been such a delight to see them enjoying a modern-day story that doesn’t promote viewpoints inconsistent with our faith. I haven’t heard of any plans to turn this into a series, but if the author ever puts out a sequel, we will jump at the chance to pre-order it. What a gift to have high-quality Catholic fiction to which I can entrust my daughters’ imaginations.
Copyright 2023 Katie Fitzgerald
About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald is a former children's librarian turned stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She and her librarian husband live in Maryland with their five children, the youngest of whom are boy/girl twins. She has published two textbooks for librarians, and she writes about homeschooling, books and the reading life from a Catholic perspective at ReadAtHomeMom.com and on Instagram @read.at.home.mom.