Tillie is a figure skater. Her life is dominated by early mornings, group dynamics with both girls and moms, and finding a place in the new skating culture when she moves to Texas at age 12. Tillie isn't happy with skating, with school, with her family life, with being closeted. There's a lot for her to overcome and accept (or not accept as being any form of her fault) and skating is the nexus of it all.
The coming of age story and the art reminds me a lot of This One Summer but that's where the exact similarities end. It's a familiar story in the fact that the reader can relate and you have read versions of this before but it's still a journey worth taking.
The art is gorgeous and I am impressed that the author is so young - only 21! This book had an interesting mix of subject matter (lesbian author, competitive ice skating) and had a melancholy, mellow mood which I enjoyed. I felt like a lot of it was surface-level though and even the really monumental life experiences are rarely explored with much detail. I wish there had been a little bit more introspection.
I always love sports stories despite not enjoying playing sports. There's something about watching a protagonist grow and transform through the use of sport. However, this is not entirely that story. This graphic memoir looks back on Tillie Walden's relationship to figure skating, understanding her sexuality, and falling in love with art.
First off, I am a big fan of graphic memoirs. They are an interesting medium for telling personal stories, and Walden's is one I think many readers can relate to, particular what it means to fall out of love with someone and in love with something (and someone else). You see throughout the course of the story that Walden's passion for figure skating changes, that it doesn't feel fulfilling. You also see what is keeping her there - her first love, a girl, whom she is over the moon for.
We learn in the story that Walden has known she was gay since she was quite young. We are told that she was afraid of coming out for so long, but because of how young she was it was easier to have girls come over for sleepovers and her parents think nothing of it. She talks about how living in Texas is was scary to be young and gay, especially when society pushes it's agenda of marriage and kids. I felt for Walden, especially when she talked about her fears and how concerned she was if people found out she was gay. The book shows how she was bullied and tormented be it at school or at figure skating practice, and she never truly gets to feel satisfied in her own skin.
Spinning is a gentle story about growing up. Tillie Walden shares such a powerful narrative, and her artwork does an amazing job of showing the intense feeling of what happened in her life. I LOVED the artwork and chromatic colouring in this graphic memoir and I think it just adds such a beautiful layer to such an emotional story. I felt nothing but sympathy for Tillie, but I felt so proud towards the end when things finally came together.
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