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Going into Tillie Walden’s SPINNING, I didn’t realize it was a memoir. However, I ended up really enjoying the fact that it was someone’s story. It felt real and personal. SPINNING is about Tillie Walden’s childhood growing up as an ice skater, and struggling with being “in the closet.” It is told in graphic novel format. For those who need it, I am starting this review with content warnings for homophobia and sexual harassment.

I’m not the biggest graphic novel person, but I had a really great time reading SPINNING. I found myself rooting for Tillie and hurting for her whenever something bad happened to her. I think that’s something crucial for books, especially memoirs. Having the ability to make a reader feel is important for any author, and Tillie Walden succeeded in that. Additionally, Walden did an excellent job at portraying emotions through the drawings. Even the images that had no caption told a story, which made the book even more enjoyable. Her story is about loneliness, discovering herself and breaking down the walls she had built for herself.

"I had a really great time reading SPINNING....Walden did an excellent job at portraying emotions through the drawings. Even the images that had no caption told a story, which made the book even more enjoyable."

The color scheme of the book also tells a story, in its own way. When reading SPINNING, you kind of get a sorrowful, melancholy feel, due to the tough situations Tillie Walden depicts. The color scheme of dark and neutral colors, such as greyish blue and dark purple definitely added to the gloomy effect of the whole book. It made the book a lot more atmospheric and it felt like I could really feel what the characters were feeling. There were also certain scenes where the color scheme deviated from the rest of the book, such as adding yellow for flashes of light, and in my opinion that was done very well and added more depth to the novel as a whole.

Something that didn’t quite click with me is the pacing of the story. I understand that she told the story of 12 years of her life in a short amount of pages, but at times I felt myself feeling very confused at what was happening. It seemed to jump around from memory to memory a lot. This could also be due to the fact that it is a graphic novel and I may not be used to the story sequences of graphic novels, but it still took away a little bit of the enjoyment factor. That being said, I was still able to follow the events of the novel, I just feel that it could have been a bit more cohesive.

I would definitely recommend this to graphic novel lovers, and to people who like quick stories that you can read fast yet experience a whirlwind of emotions. The illustrations are simplistic yet aesthetically pleasing and story-enhancing. SPINNING made me very interested to read more graphic novels in the future. Tillie Walden has three other books out, and because I liked SPINNING, I definitely want to check out her other books in the future.

Reviewed by Jessi H., Teen Board Member on October 10, 2017

by Tillie Walden