Tillie Walden's Eisner Award winning graphic memoir Spinning 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.
This title has Common Core connections.
A New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Teens
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017
A 2018 YALSA Great Graphic Novel
A 2017 Booklist Youth Editors' Choice
In an elegant, contemplative, and somber graphic memoir, Walden (The End of Summer) immerses readers in an adolescence dominated by competitive figure skating. The story stretches over several years, during which time Walden vacillates between embracing the routine of early morning practices and the rush of competition, and a near-constant feeling of otherness, due in large part to her attraction to girls, which she hides from her family and peers. "It wasn't the thrill or freedom I felt that I remember," she notes after making a romantic connection with a friend. "It was the fear." Chapters open with illustrations of spins and jumps, the movements delicately mapped, paired with commentary that, at times, gives insight into Walden's personal life; of the frustrating axel, she writes, "As I would turn to go into it I would wish and hope with everything I had that this time it would work." A palette of deep purple, splashed with yellow, underscores the loneliness that permeates Walden's story, and her careful attention to facial expressions and body language makes readers intimately aware of what she is feeling. A haunting and resonant coming-of-age story. Ages 14 up.
Bitter sweet is the best way to describe this work of literature. While the art is well done and the lack of color still manages to paint surprising visuals, I was more enthralled by the way this was written. The words that Tillie spoke, the thoughts in her head put in script was incredibly grounded and realistic, just as the scenarios she was put in, her struggles, her drive and lack of. It really struck a chord with me.
Reading this all the way through was an emotional roller coaster, a bitter sweet delight that I would gladly read again.
How good was this book?
This book was really good. One thing however, I think there was an unnecessary use of bad words. I recommend this book to ages 13-15. Otherwise, I think this book was really good.
Totally picked this up on a whim. It was about 1 a.m. and I was getting ready for bed and happened to be scrolling through a particular Twitter page when this book got a special shout out. I figured I’d pick it up, read a few pages, and fall asleep.
Well, I just read through this in one sitting. It’s, like, 4 a.m. right now but I am enchanted by Tillie Walden’s tale. I’m not going to dive into any details because I jumped in completely blind. I mean, I thought it was going to be about ballet due to my lack of keen observation skills with the cover.
All I want to say is… this is one of the best things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing all year… and freakin’ ‘Breath of the Wild’ and ‘Baby Driver’ came out this year.