Where Romance and Comics Meet

Spinning, a Graphic Ice-Skating Memoir

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 29, 2017 11:02:00 AM / by Suzanne Krohn

We took an early look at SPINNING, a graphic memoir out Sept. 12 from Tillie Walden and First Second books. It's a coming-of-age coming-out story that takes place largely on the ice.

Topics: review

Spinning Cover
Title: Spinning
Creators: Format: Ebook Print
Color: Color
Romanceiness: LGBTQ+ Elements
Heat: PG13
Tags: coming of age lesbian young adult
Where to Buy or Read:

Amazon

Synopsis from the Creator:

Ignatz Award winner Tillie Walden’s Spinning is a powerful graphic memoir that captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

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. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But 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 team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion—and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Love In Panels' Review:

With a whopping 400 pages, this book is something of a coming-of-age tome. With a spare, sketchlike style, Tillie Walden tells the story of her life as an ice skating child and teen.

Chapters are named after skating moves, a short description of the action mirroring the events of the story. Through skating, we see Tillie's yearning for acceptance and love: from other girls, from her coaches, from her family, from herself. Walden doesn't shy away from showing us her first love, her bouts of depression, and an assault by her SAT tutor. She lets readers feel the fear, heartbreak, and relief that she experiences while coming out as a teen.

While I spent about half of the book wondering "why the hell is she still skating if it makes her this miserable," Walden does answer that question. The "why" is inextricably tied in with Tillie's own struggle with self-acceptance and her need for approval. Even when she's being bullied at school, at the rink, at home, she still tries to put on a smile and do what is expected of her. This pushes her through skating, through middle school, through concealing her first relationship.

This is not a book for answers, however. Tillie's not perfect and doesn't pretend to be. She acknowledges that she might have saved everyone a lot of trouble by quitting skating earlier, and that she relied on one of her skating friends for a lot of support and friendship that she never really reciprocated. Rather than providing answers, this memoir offers readers a chance to consider the sacrifices we make for the things we could leave behind, and the confusing freedom that comes from breaking with routine and stepping into the unknown.