Sunday, November 08, 2020

Spin With Me

Polonsky, Ami. Spin With Me
November 10th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Essie is NOT happy when her father takes a four month temporary post at a university in North Carolina and her mother, an artist, inexplicably stays behind in St. Lewis. She's angry that she has to leave her friends behind and enter 7th grade as a new student. Luckily, she is fortunate enough to find friends right away, since Savannah reaches out in the cafeteria. She also connects with Ollie and has a little bit of a crush on him. When Ollie shows up in her gym class locker room, Essie is confused. She finds out that Ollie is nonbinary and uses the pronouns they/them, but still finds herself attracted. Ollis has supportive family, and the school has been okay with a Gender and Love Open-Minded Warriors (GLOW) club. Ollie enlists Essie in helping them increase membership and plan activities for the club. Meanwhile, Essie is struggling with her friends back in St. Louis, who at first seem supportive of her crush on Ollie but who eventually show their true colors. Essie is also dealing with her mother being very aloof, her father making new connections with women in North Carolina, and the uncertainty of her parents' relationship. As her time with Ollie draws to a close, Essie tries to get her parents to allow her to stay for the whole year. We then see the story recounted from Ollie's perspective, and shedding more light on their perspective and feelings was great.
Strengths: Essie and Ollie were both good characters. Essie's confusion about how her crush on Ollie "labels" her is very realistic, and Ollie's wish to not discuss her gender identity all the time also seems spot on. While Polonsky is not an #ownvoices author, she does have people in her life who identify as transgender. The real draw of this one for me was the parents' marital strife and more specifically, its effect on Essie. There aren't very many books about this; after a brief surge in the 1970s, divorced parents lost ground to deceased ones, although in the last five years there have been a few more. The reaction of her friends back home was interesting, and again, something that a 7th grader would definitely have to consider. Bonus points for Essie moving and not having her house be haunted! Other reviewers have said that the students seemed too mature for 7th grade, but they seemed quite on par with the students I have. More understanding, perhaps, but not more mature.
Weaknesses: The text messages, while definitely a part of modern middle school life, were hard to interpret. Perhaps it was the formatting of the E ARC. I was completely surprised when Essie's story ended and we started back over the same events from Ollie's perspective, and I would have liked it more if the two accounts had alternated. I had the same reaction to Card's Ender's Shadow, which was the retelling of Ender's Game from Bean's perspective, so maybe it's just me.
What I really think: Many of my students ask for LGBTQIA+ , so I will purchase this. This author's Gracefully Grayson has been really popular with my students.

Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment