Turns out they’re Birmingham Roller Pigeons, and his new neighbor Sutton is training them for a competition.
Sure, it’s strange, but Ren’s best and only friend Aiden has picked this summer to start hanging with the popular kids. So Ren starts training pigeons with Sutton—what’s the worst that could happen? A bird falls on his head?
Ren wants to be an athlete like his father, and he does try, but it's just not who he is. He doesn't think about this a lot; he tries stuff, and it doesn't work. I liked that Sutton had an unusual interest, and also that her father's situation was managed in as positive a manner as it could be. Moving, deaths of grandparents, parents who are busy-- this had a lot of very important issues and was done in an upbeat way.
I wish that Ren had liked running! It's true, though-- it's not for every child, and bonus points for actually running before the season and seeing if it worked for him. Readers who enjoyed Kate Messner's The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z will find this to be a similar read. Roll will be a hit with readers who like realistic fiction with a little bit of humor like Greenwald's Charlie Joe Jackson series, Weeks' Regular Guy or Anderson's Ms. Bixby's Last Day and Posted.