Graphic Novel Review 219/365: Spinning

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Title: Spinning  

Author(s): Tillie Walden

Publisher:  First Second (2017)

Age Rating: 13+

It’s not a secret that I’m not a teenage girl.  And my big self is for sure not a teenage girl that ice skates semi-professionally.  But that doesn’t stop me from loving or relating to Tillie Walden’s Spinning.

In her “Author’s Note,” Walden explains that she’s not here to give meaning to this book.  That she could be the author we talk about in English class that doesn’t mean anything at all, especially when we just spent a bunch of time arguing about author’s intent.  I find this cool and endearing.  I did get a lot out of this book; I did find meaning, and what I got out of it is different from what others I know have taken away from this graphic novel.

My favorite moment in the book comes when Walden briefly discusses the idea that, at times, we stick with someone or something hoping for a time to return when we fit in, felt happy, complete.  I know far too many depressing stories of people that have done just that.  In Walden, they have company.  I also enjoyed the sense of self that Tillie possess throughout this novel.  While she writes herself as a nervous, constantly questioning child, Tillie is very strong-minded and confident when she needs to be.  She is also much more talented and tough than she lets on, and this is a lesson and story to which many of us can relate.  And while there are LGBTQ issues present in the book, I don’t feel this book to be about a girl struggling with her sexuality; I feel it to be about a girl struggling with her identity as a whole.  It’s powerful.

This almost 400 page book reads quickly.  With usually no more than six large panels on each page, many pages have less, Walden relies on large images with minimal dialogue to tell her story.  Interesting angles and splashes of color in the mainly monochromatic gray novel punctuate moments of high emotional importance, giving readers lots to ponder.  This is a fine piece of graphic memoir, and considering that Tillie Walden was born in 1996, it looks like we might have a few more of these fantastic graphic novels coming down the pipeline over the next bunches of years.  But no pressure, Tillie.  This one will tide us over for quite a while.

Happy reading!

Eric

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