This graphic novel was anything BUT what I expected it to be. I expected something lighthearted and full of fluff but it’s definitely no that.
Spinning tells the story of a young girl named Tillie who has been figure skating since she was little. Her story is one filled with loneliness even when surrounded by dozens of girls, which is kind of the lesbian experience when one is very young. She’s not the most likeable character around but that’s why I felt so connected to her. She’s an outsider trying to fit into a world that doesn’t fit her. Being a gay and being deeply closeted since a very young age is something a lot of us in the LGBTQAIP+ community go through. I feel like this graphic novels captures that loneliness and pain wonderfully. The fear, the exhaustion, the rejection, the small glimpses of kindness; it captures each and every one of them.
The color scheme projects this melancholy and this sense of longing splendidly. It’s not the most expressive art I’ve ever encountered but I think that was sort of the point. It deals with bullying, PTSD and depression at a young age; topics that are rarely spoken about when dealing with young kids especially young queer kids.
The story does drag on quite a bit since we see Tillie growing up from middle school to high school. It’s not a thrilling adventure at all but more like a gentle glide into adolescence. I feel like this makes it stand out more than you would think. Most middle grade and YA books describe adolescence as this big hit moment of your life where every change is instantaneous and impactful. Spinning takes that out of the equation and gets more real; adolescence is just another part of everyday life. The pacing allows you to grow with the MC slowly but surely; making you empathize with her in almost every panel.
It’s a story I hope parents won’t feel afraid of buying for their kids because these stories matter now more than ever.