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Spin

by Colleen Nelson

Colleen Nelson (Blood Brothers; Sadia) creates a modern and original story in her latest YA novel, nicely capturing the inner turmoil of teenagehood, cranking the drama up to 11.

Dizzy is a spirited 15-year-old aspiring DJ. She lives with her brother, Lou, and dad, Roy, above their family-run record store in a gentrified part of town. Her passion is spinning vinyl and she’s determined to become an “internet sensation.” But she’s distracted by a family secret: her mother, Georgia Waters, is a mega-famous pop singer who walked out on the family when Dizzy was a baby.

When Dizzy and Lou were little, Roy convinced them not to tell their friends who their mom is by saying they’d either be hounded by the press or not believed. What the siblings didn’t know was that their father had actually signed a legal contract to stay quiet. Things get messy when Dizzy’s DJing starts to take off after she mixes some Georgia Waters deep cuts into her tracks, potentially exposing Georgia’s maternal past and contravening the contract. When Georgia comes to town on tour, Dizzy and her best friend sneak backstage, resulting in an unsatisfying meeting. Enraged, Dizzy takes to the internet to tell the truth and reveal her identity.

The author (who is also a teacher) clearly understands her audience and the realities of teens’ worlds (both real life and online). She nails all of the social media lingo and references. There’s a great tempo here, with chapters flipping between the perspectives of Dizzy, Ray, and Lou. The story also develops a genuine bond between Dizzy and her bestie Miya, who lean on one another through family tensions, rebellious streaks, daring fashion choices, and character-building mistakes.

Nelson captures the human condition with great conviction. Her characters are introspective and thoughtful. But Dizzy’s deadbeat mom lacks depth and comes up short on her highly anticipated apology. When pressed about the reason for her departure, Georgia explains, “I could never do what I wanted to if I’d had a family. This industry takes everything.”

Spin is a fast-paced, emotionally charged read, with just the right amount of behind-the-music melodrama.