Size Doesn’t Matter (203): Spinning; Keeping the Moon

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (203): Spinning; Keeping the MoonSpinning by Tillie Walden
Published by First Second on September 12, 2017
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.
Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion—and she finally needed to find her own voice.

I requested Spinning because I was interested in the ice skating and the f/f. This memoir, however, while dealing with both of these subjects wasn’t so much about them. Spinning is about the world of competitive skating, and how it took all of the fun out of skating for Walden.

You guys, I was not prepared for how depressing this book would be. There’s very little that’s happy about it, even in the end, as the author’s looking back, there’s this sense of loss. Walden thought this would be a tell-all about the horrors of skating competitions, but, in writing the story, she realized how much other factors impacted her feelings toward skating.

The memoir is certainly good. The spare art style, while not my style, really ended up being effective, and it perfectly suits the tone of the work. Spinning also made me feel, just not the sort of emotions I really enjoy experiencing in reading, since part of why I read, I’ve realized, is to help my own mental health.

If you come to Spinning for a harshly honest portrayal of Walden’s life, you’ll likely be very happy with what you got.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Size Doesn’t Matter (203): Spinning; Keeping the MoonKeeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Published by Speak on June 1, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 228
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

Never underestimate the power of friendship.

When Colie goes to spend the summer at the beach, she doesn't expect much.

But Colie didn't count on meeting Morgan and Isabel.

Through them, she learns what true friendship is all about, and finally starts to realize her potential.

And that just might open the door to her first chance at love...

Thus far, a certain someone has been laughing at my attempts to read all of Sarah Dessen’s books. Admittedly, it hasn’t gone so well. That Summer was boring and Someone Like You was the absolute worst. With Keeping the Moon, though, there’s a major up-tick in quality, and I’m very glad.

My expectations started very low, both because of the prior books and because the heroine is named Nicole Sparks, which, like, there is absolutely no plot reason why her name is basically Nicholas Sparks (this name would have fit Someone Like You really well though). And she goes by Colie, which looks like a dog or a disease and just doesn’t sound like something a person would be super likely to go by. I mean, Nic is RIGHT THERE. But whatever.

Keeping the Moon deals with bullying, fat-shaming, and slut-shaming, and that also made me really nervous, since this book came out in 1999, and attitudes on this stuff in 1999 were even worse than they mostly remain today. Actually, though, I was pretty impressed with the rep in the book. There are still some things that are a bit iffy, but, on the whole, Dessen does a nice job and presents a variety of experiences.

Colie and her mother used to be fat, until her mom got a job at a gym and became fitness guru Kiki Sparks. Though Colie works hard to stay thinner, she feels even less confident than she did when she was fat. Colie has major self-image issues, and these are directly addressed by the book in a way that felt very realistic. Though I never totally loved Colie, there’s something very satisfying about seeing her face her bully and start learning confidence. Fake it ’til you make it.

My favorite characters are the quirky ones: Mira and Norman. Colie’s sent away for the summer to stay with her aunt, while her mom tours Europe for her job. At first, Colie hates it. Her Aunt Mira is deeply weird; she’s fat and she collects broken things and she wears bright clothes and rides around on her bicycle. Everywhere she goes, people in the town mock her, and it absolutely horrifies Colie. What I love about Mira’s character is that she is self-aware but she knows who she is and she loves who she is. Of all the characters, she’s the happiest and has figured out how not to let the haters get her down. At the start, it seemed like Mira would be a pathetic figure, but she’s actually a powerful and inspiring person. We should all know how to love ourselves that much.

The side-plots about Morgan and Isabel, the waitresses (I think in their 20s) who Colie works with and befriends over the summer, didn’t interest me that much, and they were much more predictable. However, Colie’s slow burn romance with Norman is really excellent. So good that I even got over the fact that he’s named Norman. Now I know why I really liked a couple of the Dessen books I read back in the late 2000s; I’d been worried I’d just had less particular tastes back then.

My Sarah Dessen binge is looking way, way up! Keeping the Moon is absolutely worth a read, even though it is unsurprisingly a bit dated.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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