Spinning a Story

I bought Spin (by Darcie J. Gudger) because of an Amazon ad on my Facebook. The girl on the cover looked just like me, and she was spinning a blue flag. All I needed to know was that this was a young adult novel about a girl who is in color guard. I had to have it.

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Eerie, right?

Spin was not at all what I had anticipated. For starters, there as no romance–that’s not a complaint, just an observation. I actually found the change of pace quite refreshing.

I must admit that Kisrie, the main character, bothered me at first. Perhaps it was her liberal use of the phrase, “So. Not. Fair.” Maybe it was her less-than-respectful attitude toward her mother and certain other adults in her life. Maybe it’s just because she illustrated common teenaged angst and behaviors that I hope to have outgrown.

On the flip side, I think that her father was my favorite character. Unlike so many fathers portrayed in the media, Kisrie’s father is competent and kind, balanced and patient, compassionate and a good listener. He’s a genuinely good father. What saddens me, however, is that he’s the good cop to his wife’s bad cop. Kisrie’s mother is constantly made to appear cruel and selfish, the wicked witch whose only joy comes in doling out punishment on Kisrie. As this is meant to be a Christian home (more on that later), I wish that both parents could have been good examples.

“If it’s not a romance,” you may ask, “then what’s this book about?” A surprising array of topics, actually. Gudger tackles heavy subject matter like abuse and abandonment, sexting, authority, false accusations, depression and suicide, grief and loss, truth and doing right, forgiveness, and loving one’s enemies. She presents faith in a real, honest, organic way; Kisrie’s come-to-Jesus moment draws on the story of Jonah, touching on the running and doubt that he struggled with. And who can blame her? Kisrie’s experience is unusual, but relatable. Not many of us can say that we were beaten up by our classmates–and certainly not badly enough to put us in the ER–but most of us probably witnessed a cafeteria fight. We might have called a classmate a cruel name, or been called one ourselves. I know I have. But it’s her passions and her friends that make Kisrie real, and her fear of losing those things. Hers is a fabulous little story that I consider appropriately challenging. I can honestly say that I look forward to Gudger’s next stories.

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