Spinning by Tillie Walden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: First Second Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 11+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, LGBT, Graphic Novel, Memoir, Sports
For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But over time, as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the figure skating team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. It all led to one question: What was the point? The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion–and she finally needed to find her own voice.
This book held my attention completely.
Sports books are not necessarily rare, but those with figure skating and synchronized skating? And a graphic memoir at that? With LGBT themes?
It was gorgeous. The author may only be twenty-one (and I believe she started this book when she was a bit younger), but she’s got talent to behold and admire.
Not only that, but the melancholy atmosphere fitted the main character, AKA the author, entirely. It follows Tillie from age ten to age eighteen. Her experience on the ice, at school, with friends and girls. Interesting, really.
BUT, and this is a huge but, as it cost the author two stars, very few themes are profoundly explored. I don’t feel as though she left important parts of her life out, but it’s as though she’d rather solely present facts, without analysing them.
Like the time she was sexually assaulted, or the friends she lost abruptly and didn’t go back to, or why in hell she kept waking up at 3-4 am to do something she only complains about. And her mother… we barely see her… once? They have a bad relationship that is never developed.
It’s obvious to every reader that Tillie does not actually love ice-skating. Yeah, she loves winning and being alone on the ice, but not the training and not the competition part. Most shocking of all, she says she has no passion for drawing.
That it’s just something she does because when she starts to draw something, she ‘‘has to finish it.’’ (Also because she’s good at it obviously.)
This isn’t a book about a girl’s passion for ice-skating, which is unfortunate. But it is about a girl’s coming-of-age and being forced out of the closet. It has depth, as we really feel like we can read inside the author’s mind, but once again, many subjects were not developed enough.
Next time, I guess. Still recommending it, as it is very interesting and a quick read.
Follow me on: