Spinning is an award-winning graphic novel memoir that was written and illustrated by Tillie Walden. It is 400 pages long and was published by First Second Books on 12 September 2017. In this critically acclaimed novel, Walden recounts her childhood career spent as a competitive figure skater, as well as the struggles she faced with bullying, being gay, and coming-of-age. In 2018 Spinning was awarded the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.
Described by critics as "Poignant and captivating", Spinning will resonate with anyone who was ever forced by their parents to sign up for a sport or play an instrument as a kid. Walden describes in intimate and honest detail how figure skating was a bit part of her life for 10 years. She would wake up before dawn for early morning lessons before school, went straight to more practice lessons after school, and her weekends were spent performing in competitions. For the longest time skating formed a big part of her identity and provided her with an escape from the stress of school and her life at home. After her family moves to Texas, Walden's life changes. She is forced to switch schools, develops an interest in art and gets her first girlfriend. For the first time in her life, she starts to wonder if she has outgrown ice skating, and if she wants to keep pursuing it on a competitive level.
In August 2022 a Michigan library was defunded by a public vote after it refused to remove three LGBTQ+ books from their shelves: Gender Queen by Maia Kobabe, Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F Venable and Spinning by Tillie Walden. The community activists claimed that it was inappropriate for the books to be located in the young adult section and that the library was trying to "groom" young children by exposing them to LGBTQ+ books. The library has stated it will run out of money in 2023 and will be forced to close as a result of the decision to strip it of its funding. Despite this, the Library Board President has stood firm behind the decision not to ban the books.
I decided to read and review Spinning after hearing about the efforts to ban the book. There is nothing pornographic in this book that seeks to "groom" young children into adapting a LGBTQ+ lifestyle. Walden's memoir would be relatable to a lot of people. Spinning isn't a book about being gay and it isn't about skating either. It is a moving coming-of-age story about being honest with yourself about your feelings and choosing your own path. I would highly recommend people read this book not just because I think we should support LGBTQ+ authors but because it is beautifully drawn and a heartfelt young adult story about growing up and becoming your own person.