Just Roll With It tells the story of Maggie: a girl with OCD and anxiety who is just beginning sixth grade. To help Maggie cope with the world around her, she has various rituals–her most frequent involving her 20-sided die. Before she makes any decision (e.g. snack or homework first, to befriend or not befriend someone, etc.), she rolls the die to see what the numbers foretell: the higher the roll, the better; the lower the roll, she panics.
However, the die is more than just a way for Maggie to attempt to control her environment. She and her new friend join their school’s RPG club. And it is through roleplaying and the support from her family and new friends that she learns what it takes to slay her dragon (a.k.a. her mental illness).
Mental illness is a complicated subject to portray, but graphic novels have the unique advantage of being able to communicate both textually and visually–which really helps readers to see what invisible illnesses (like anxiety and OCD) can involve. And this is where Just Roll With It really shines.
Writer Lee Durfey-Lavoie does an excellent job of structuring the story. RPGs necessarily blend reality and fantasy, and Durfey-Lavoie capitalizes on that by making parallels with how what is “real” can be a subjective experience. Furthermore, the writing flows beautifully, with believable dialogue and important discussion that never feels heavy-handed or clinical. Veronica Agarwal’s art is also fantastic. It’s fun and youthful while still communicating all of Maggie’s struggles. And the soft coloring gives the story a warm, inviting feel.
Although Just Roll With It will have special significance for those who identify as mentally ill, it’s simply a good story that can be appreciated by anyone.