After reading a bunch of Alice Oseman’s works, I sought out some of her graphic novel recommendations and it led me back to Tillie Walden. I’d read On a Sunbeam, so naturally Spinning went right onto my to-read list when I saw Oseman mention it.
Spinning is simultaneously a light and heavy story. Walden gives us a short slice of life, one without too much major upheaval going on, yet it’s more than that for our main character. She has to move to a new town, leaving behind her old friends. She has to weigh whether or not ice skating is really for her. Lastly, she has to navigate her own sexuality and coming out.
None of these things are small things to a girl her age. They go by so fast, yet in the moment they’re like an eternity. We see her pain as she struggles to make friends. We see the ups and downs of what skating means to her. We see first love and first heartbreak. To us as adults, these may seem like minor bumps along the road, but to her they’re veritable speed humps.
And yet, I wanted a little more. I wanted to see her grow up further, to better find herself, and to find true happiness. She underwent so much, including some legitimate trauma, that I was disappointed by the bittersweet ending Walden decided upon. I get it was a conscious choice, probably to leave readers thinking about where she’d go from there rather than filling all the blanks in for us, but I guess I’m just the sort who hates things being left open-ended.