Tillie Walden (A City Inside, The End of Summer) says of her new autobiographical novel, Spinning - covering her teenage years as a figure skater - that "it ended up not being about ice skating at all".
Instead Spinning ends up being one of those rare books that's not particularly about anything, but potentially about almost everything. This quality means that what you get out of this book really does depend on what you bring to it. In writing about it, therefore, you may end up revealing more about your own preoccupations than you'd really like to. With that in mind, let’s delve into just what I thought Spinning was all about.
The graphic novel, published by SelfMadeHero, written and drawn by Walden, covers the years of Walden’s life between 12 and 17, the prime teenage years, and so sits firmly into the ‘coming-of-age’ genre. While it is mainly set on or around ice rinks, its first movement features the 12 year old Walden discovering her family is moving from New Jersey to Austin. This unexpected and life-altering change is, I believe, characteristic of much of a child's life. So often children face massive, inexplicable upheavals and go through their lives without control or consent. Coming-of-age stories can be seen as a move from the lack of control a child has, subject to the whims of parents, teachers and (as we see) ice-skating coaches.