Jacket Blurb: Sophomore Kisrie Kelley longs to fit in. Instead, she’s always been a misfit, a fact her nemesis Wendy won’t let her forget. At least she’s got color guard and photography, right? She almost feels normal when she’s out on the field performing or behind the lens. Truth be told, they’re the only reasons she even shows up at school, though her professor mom thinks they’re both a waste of Kisrie’s time. Add a serious affinity to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that has her battling the bulge and a pestering “prodigy” little sister who thinks she’s a bush baby, and Kisrie’s contemplating moving to a different planet.
The stakes are raised even higher when she overhears Wendy plotting against Kisrie’s English-teacher uncle all over a stupid grade! Should Kisrie snitch and risk Wendy’s wrath? Ever since elementary school the young beauty queen has bullied Kisrie as if it were an Olympic sport. Everything spins out of control as vicious rumors fly and lives are on the line. Only the truth can set them all free, but will it be too late?
Spin quote: Kisrie opened her mouth to reply, letting in more air than she intended. The peanut butter cup lodged in her throat. Eyes watering, she opened her mouth, hoping air would rush in.
Even though bullying is not a funny topic, Darcie J. Gudger’s main character, Kisrie, is humorous. Kisrie’s not a size five, and she’s not dainty, which leads to some funny, clumsy moments throughout the first part of the book. After that, the story becomes drop dead serious on the topic of high school bullying.
Spin quote: Wendy had used [nasty] words on the [elementary] playground. Kisrie tattled. For three days, Wendy had to stay after school for an hour. Behind the buses after school on the fourth day, a Hello-Kitty backpack made contact with Kisrie’s face. “Gonna rat me out again, Cow Poop?”
A group of girls, led by queen bully, Wendy Wetz, make Kisrie their target and this story becomes no laughing matter. Ms. Gudger is gutsy to tackle the bullying topic. The story’s plot unfolds into gut wrenching, heart pounding, and often sad circumstances. It evolves around Kisrie and her not being the model teen expected from most of her peers.
Spin quote: [Wendy’s POV] Home. How can you call a place home when you’re required to knock before entering?
In chapter two, I was quite surprised when the Point of View switched from Kisrie to Wendy. I was sure then I would truly be allowed into the heart of a story that tackled a difficult topic. Switching to Wendy’s POV throughout the book was a smart move on Ms. Gudger’s part. It deepens the story to make for a more interesting read.
Ms. Gudger handles high school bullying in an honest and open manner. So much so, that I personally was shocked at how far cruelty could go. If we trust this author, then it’s believable. If we read and watch the news, we know it’s so. If we are within the school system, whether it be student or faculty, we watch it with our own eyes.
Spin quote: Pain. Big, bad, ugly pain. There was no other sensation. Kisrie concentrated, trying to find something on her body that didn’t hurt, but everything did. Her tongue felt seven hundred times bigger than normal and like it was made out of wood. If only she could have something to drink.
Kisrie is the perfect character to be at the bad end of bullying, and I sympathized with her throughout the story.
Ms. Gudger is an author to watch. She’s proven to me that she can handle a hard topic and hold our attention. There are a few scenes when the tension became a bit much with a break needed to take a breath, but that could just be my personal tastes. I’m a grandparent and not of this generation of young people who attend public school and see or live through bullying.
I believe this book has the ability to help students who are at the mercy of tyrants. As one would hope, God is included within the story, and characters do change and grow. An added feature to Spin is the twelve discussion questions in the back, making this book useful in a group setting.