Parents' Guide to

Spinning

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Frank, sensitive coming-of-age tale of young lesbian skater.

Spinning Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 10+

Perfect for tweens

I don't think kids need to be 14 to read this book like other reviewers have suggested. My 10 year old figure skates so I decided to check it out. We both read the book and talked about some of the issues. The main theme here is the main character has no connection to her mom or dad. She does not feel she has anyone to talk to about any problems she has at school, at the ice rink or with the tutor. It's important for girls as young as 10 to understand that they are not doing anything wrong if they get unwanted attention (negative or positive) from a boy. It's also important to reinforce that your kids can and should talk to you or someone at school if they are having trouble with a bully. I highly recommend this book to tweens.
age 13+

Beautiful, melancholic story

This is not a kids' book. It's not a happy story. But teens don't want sugarcoating, anyway. This is a true story about figuring out how you fit into the world and what you want to do with your life, and I think a lot of teens will relate to it, whatever their sexuality. If your kid has started thinking about the serious things in life, this book will not disturb them. It will reassure them: these things happen to others, too. And we all deal with them, somehow. The art style is gorgeous and the pacing is brilliant. Tillie Walden has a gift. This book will inspire young artists to express themselves in art. I disagree with the review that said being attracted to another girl is "too much" for children. Some people are gay. This is the truth. Letting children know about this helps them react supportively if a friend comes out to them, making the world a better place. Tillie Walden tells her own story and the reader understands her. We need this understanding.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (6 ):

This poignant coming-of-age memoir set in the all-consuming world of ice skating competition rings with emotional honesty as it deals frankly with feelings of alienation and lesbian attraction. Graphic novelist Tillie Walden tinges Spinning with a sweet sadness. While the moms of the other skaters micromanage from a "mom table," Tillie's mom is remote and cold, and her parents never come to practice, much less competitions. She's left to find her own way emotionally, a bit like a latchkey kid, if the key was to a skating rink. She craves connection -- with friends, with girls she has crushes on, and with her female coaches and teachers, whom she resourcefully turns to for simple affection. Though the setting's specific to ice skating, the rigor and discipline will be familiar to many tightly scheduled kids, and the emotional content feels intensely real and relatable. The plot hits many standard YA notes -- a family move, adjusting to new schools, cliques, girl bullying, sexual advances by a male adult in an authority position -- and her first love is both tender and fraught.

The deep purple and yolk-yellow palette is particularly effective at evoking the violet light of early, predawn practices. Walden has an observant eye for visual detail and a keen ear for conversation, and while the memoir has the fragmented feel of real life and doesn't always tie neat bows, it movingly chronicles the hopeful story of a girl lost and ultimately found.

Book Details

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