Spin with Me

Farrar. Feb. 2021. 336p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374313500.
Gr 5-7–Polonsky (Gracefully Grayson) gives life to first love in this novel. When Essie moves from Missouri to North Carolina with her father, she’s not particularly thrilled. Things between her parents are strange, and her mom is almost completely out of touch. But when Essie meets Ollie, sparks fly and she finds herself settling right into her new life. As the romance between Essie and Ollie blossoms, so do the conversations about gender. Ollie is nonbinary, and as they’ve embraced their gender identity, they feel like it’s become their defining characteristic. Essie and Ollie struggle with labels, and Essie especially craves the organization and structure labels can provide. Ollie wants to just exist, recognizing the help and barriers labels have given their life so far. Essie and Ollie are both middle class and white. Essie describes many characters of color, and specifically addresses the diversity of her old and new homes. Ollie’s parents are extremely supportive, as are other adult figures in Ollie’s life, who are themselves pansexual and nonbinary. While this is very much a book about gender and sexuality, it is a love story that readers will adore. Those who haven’t flipped ahead will get a fun surprise at the halfway mark, when things switch from Essie’s to Ollie’s point of view.
VERDICT Hopeful and real, this story is electric. There’s a lot to love here; recommended as a first purchase everywhere.

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