Tillie Walden's graphic memoir reflects on her time as a competitive figure and synchronized skater, hence the title. But, as she explains in her author's note, it couldn't just be an inside look at the world of skating. Everything else going on in her life affected her skating and her confidence, so she had to weave together multiple story lines about her family, school bullies, friends, and her first girlfriend to make the book complete. The skating comes through as a constant in her life, something that is always there whether the family moves to another state, or she changes schools, or comes out to her family and classmates.
Skating also serves as a metaphor for life. It can be slippery and dangerous, exhilarating and challenging. Sometimes it's all about appearances - and the wrong color of tights can ruin everything. Other times it is all about discipline and holding on, no matter how hard the fast pace tries to sling you out of formation. And despite the surface perfection you might project, there are all those issues hidden underneath the surface that can throw off your performance.
Readers who appreciated the complexities of Bechdel's Fun Home should give Spinning a try. I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.