I have always liked graphic novels but always struggled to find good graphic novels. Spinning by Tillie Walden is new this year and I was surprised at the end to find out this was a memoir.
This graphic novel is beautifully illustrated. There is no doubt that Tillie Walden is talented. What did bother me about this was the overall story. There where HUGE themes that were never expanded upon or addressed properly. The themes I am talking about are attempted physical assault by an adult, physical assault by a minor, bullying, family neglect, and more. There are some heavy topics that the author/illustrator went through but they felt brushed over. Tillie was advanced upon by an adult that was her tutor – yet she never told anyone nor did she do anything about it. She was also bullied by a fellow classmate/skater to the degree that physical things happened but, again, Tillie never told anyone. Her parents were in a rocky marriage and Tillie paid the price. She wanted to continue skating but chose to be a bitch to her parents about the entire thing. They sacrificed so much for her to continue but she came across ungrateful for what they did. She was stand-offish to her friends and worse to her teammates. All of these topics/themes really could have or should have been expanded upon more. The author/illustrator had the perfect opportunity to speak to her audience about the dangers and what should be done but nothing like that happened. Now I know this is a memoir about her real life and real life isn’t always pretty, but I just wish she had given an epilogue or something about who to contact or that people should speak out if these things happen.
This is a quick read but it is not an easy read. Tillie is not always nice to the people around her. The only person she really connects to is a fellow skater that she develops a crush on and realizes that she is gay. She started a relationship with this girl and for the first time I saw her happy. But things happened and they were not allowed to be together. Maybe that is where some of the bitterness came from but still, it was never again talked about.
Would I recommend this? Eh, maybe? If you do read this, do not go into it thinking that it is just a book about ice skating. The MC clearly wanted to skate by herself and win but she did not want to go to the training. She whined about getting up at 3 or 4 every morning yet threw a fit if she couldn’t continue skating. It felt inconsistent at times. Then with the mature themes I mentioned, it is not for the faint-hearted. I had to put the book down a couple of times and walk away. It was even too much for me to read.