Spinning is a graphic novel memoir by cartoonist Tillie Walden that was first published by First Second Books on September 12, 2017. The memoir chronicles Walden's years coming-of-age as a competitive figure skater, as she navigates romance, bullying and various traumas.[1] It won the 2018 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.

The front cover of the graphic novel
DateSeptember 12, 2017
Page count400 pages
Creative team
WritersTillie Walden
ArtistsTillie Walden

Synopsis edit

At the start of Spinning, Walden is ten and her family has just moved to Texas from New Jersey. Walden, a competitive figure skater, finds herself having to adjust to the new environment and figure skating culture.[2] As Walden becomes more disenchanted with the culture around the competitive sport, she discovers her talent as an artist. Having known she was gay since she was five, Walden also struggles with the alienation and pressure she faces as she embarks on her first romance with another girl.[3] The novel also recounts Walden's sexual assault by her SAT tutor.[4][5]

Development edit

The idea for Spinning first came to Tillie Walden when she attempted to make a short comic about ice skating at the end of her first year at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Walden realized that she had "too much baggage with skating to even make a small comic about it," and began working on the book that summer before her second year.[6] Spinning was initially Walden's school thesis and upon graduating, she worked with First Second Books to turn her thesis into the final graphic novel.[7]

Having published three fictional graphic novels before Spinning, Walden noted that it was a lot harder, but far more rewarding, to write the memoir than works of fiction. According to Walden, revisiting the trauma she faced was difficult and "there were scenes in Spinning where [she] just cried the entire time [she] drew it."[6]

Reception edit

In her review, Rachel Cooke of The Guardian wrote: "Intimate and charming, Spinning already has the feeling of a coming-of-age classic – and yet, amazingly, its talented author has only just hit 21."[2] The New York Times's Douglas Wolk described the novel as "engrossing, gorgeously quiet",[5] while The Austin Chronicle's Wayne Alan Brenner called it a "powerful work of real-life storytelling".[8] Publishers Weekly noted that the memoir is "a haunting and resonant coming-of-age story,"[9] while Booklist's Sarah Hunter called it "a stirring, gorgeously illustrated story of finding the strength to follow one's own path."[10]

The Daily Dot's Gavia Baker-Whitelaw concluded that: "Spinning is a raw and intimate memoir, and likely to appear on many “best-of” lists for 2017. It's honest and sensitive, holding a different appeal for a wide range of viewpoints. As a coming-out story, it's painful and therapeutic. To figure skaters, the depictions of the sport and its culture will doubtless ring true. And for childhood overachievers, it's a firsthand observation by someone who grew up and escaped through an unexpected avenue."[11]

The A.V. Club's Oliver Sava named Spinning as one of the best comics of 2017,[12] and it was tied for third place in Publishers Weekly 2017 Graphic Novel Critics Poll.[13] The novel won the 2018 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, making Walden one of the youngest Eisner Award winners ever at 22.[14]

Challenges edit

In August 2022, 62% of voters in Jamestown Charter Township voted to defund their public library system after librarians refused to remove three books from the library's shelves: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A. F. Venable, and Spinning by Tillie Walden.[15] Community activists claimed that the presence of these books in the library's young adult and adult sections meant the library was trying to "groom" young children.[16] According to Library Board President Larry Walton, without fund renewal, "the library will run out of money in 2023, jeopardizing its existence."[15] Despite not wanting to close the library, Walton has stated that the board refuses to ban the books.[15]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Spinning - Kirkus Review". Kirkus Reviews. July 17, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Cooke, Rachel (December 12, 2017). "Spinning by Tillie Walden review – portrait of adolescence on ice". The Guardian.
  3. ^ Sava, Oliver (September 22, 2017). "Spinning is a heart-wrenching memoir from a brilliant young cartoonist". The A.V. Club.
  4. ^ Flax, Shoshana (December 20, 2017). "Review of Spinning". The Horn Book Magazine.
  5. ^ a b Wolk, Douglas (November 30, 2017). "The Latest in Graphic Novels". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Orsini, Lauren (October 3, 2017). "How LGBT Ice Skating Graphic Novel 'Spinning' Defies Definition". Forbes.
  7. ^ Brown, Hillary (September 26, 2017). "Spinning's Tillie Walden on the Power of Pursuing and Ending Childhood Dreams". Paste.
  8. ^ Brenner, Wayne Alan (November 3, 2017). "Review: Spinning". The Austin Chronicle.
  9. ^ "Spinning". Publishers Weekly. July 17, 2017.
  10. ^ Hunter, Sarah (July 2017). Booklist Review: Spinning – via Booklist.
  11. ^ Baker-Whitelaw, Gavia (October 21, 2017). "'Spinning' is a heartfelt graphic novel about figure skating and teen life". The Daily Dot.
  12. ^ Sava, Oliver; Rosberg, Caitlin; Hennum, Shea (December 5, 2017). "The best comics of 2017". The A.V. Club.
  13. ^ "'My Favorite Thing Is Monsters' Tops Annual 'PW' Graphic Novel Critics Poll". Publishers Weekly. December 20, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  14. ^ Cavna, Michael (July 23, 2018). "Women make history, and receive overdue recognition, at 2018 Eisner Awards". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c Schaub, Michael (August 5, 2022). "Michigan Library Is Defunded Over LGBTQ+ Books". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  16. ^ French, Ron (August 3, 2022). "Upset over LGBTQ books, a Michigan town defunds its library in tax vote | Bridge Michigan". Bridge Michigan. Retrieved August 4, 2022.

External links edit