Spinning Out

( 1 )

Overview

High school senior Frenchy has little ambition beyond hanging out at the smoking rock until his best friend, the ever-witty and conniving Stewart, gets him to try out for Man of la Mancha. To everyone's surprise, the guys are a hit. But when Stewart's antics begin to grow more obsessivehe wears his costume 24/7, freaks out about little details, and displays an incessant hatred of the high-tech windmills outside of townFrenchy worries that there's something deeper going on. Is Stewart spiraling into madness, just ...

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Spinning Out

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Overview

High school senior Frenchy has little ambition beyond hanging out at the smoking rock until his best friend, the ever-witty and conniving Stewart, gets him to try out for Man of la Mancha. To everyone's surprise, the guys are a hit. But when Stewart's antics begin to grow more obsessivehe wears his costume 24/7, freaks out about little details, and displays an incessant hatred of the high-tech windmills outside of townFrenchy worries that there's something deeper going on. Is Stewart spiraling into madness, just like Don Quixote? And can Frenchy battle through his own demons in time to save his friend from self-destruction before it's too late?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Stahler (the Truesight trilogy) delivers a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking look at the dual toll grief and mental illness take on teenagers—both on the sufferers and on everyone around them. Frenchy is intent on spending his senior year smoking weed and trying to blot out the death of his father in combat. But his best friend and fellow practical joker Stewart persuades him to try out for the school musical, The Man of La Mancha, and before Frenchy knows it, he's playing Sancho to Stewart's Don Quixote. But Stewart is also tilting at windmills in real life—he and his family oppose the wind turbines that have become a part of their town—and his obsession with the play seems to dominate his life, even as Frenchy tries to deal with his mother's new beau and his own potential love interest. Stahler creates a solid narrator in Frenchy, ably balancing his grief, confusion over Stewart's deteriorating mental state, and elation at his dawning relationship with stage manager Kaela. The resulting denouement is chaotic and heart-wrenching. Ages 12–up. (June)
From the Publisher
"The narrative moves logically to its denouement, and the fast pace will keep readers interested in the conclusion" - School Library Journal

"[D]elivers a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking look at the dual toll grief and mental illness take on teenagers. The resulting denouement is chaotic and heart-wrenching." - Publisher's Weekly

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Stewart and Gerry (aka Frenchy) are from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds, but their friendship is fueled by their misfit status and their daily pot-smoking "pit stops." When they audition for the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha, their leader/follower relationship is cemented, and they surprise everyone with their talent. Their theatrical prowess, however, masks serious issues: Frenchy is trying to deal with his soldier-father's recent suicide, and Stewart's obsession with sabotaging the power company's wind turbines is evidence of his mental illness. When his increasingly erratic behavior puts both teens in danger, Frenchy is forced to admit to Stewart's schizophrenia and risks his own life to get him help. These teens have much more to them than meets the eye. The slow unraveling of their secrets provides insight into the often-complicated lives of adolescents bent on hiding their private demons from the world. Secondary characters, though less well developed, add depth to the story, and the adults exhibit a true desire to better themselves and/or to help the struggling protagonists. The relationships that develop between them and the boys add credibility. The narrative moves logically to its denouement, and the fast pace will keep readers interested in the conclusion. Religious epithets, derogatory terms (e.g., "faggot," "douche bag"), curses, slang, and raw language abound, adding a realistic feel to the dialogue. A good choice for broadminded young adult collections.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL
From the Publisher
"The narrative moves logically to its denouement, and the fast pace will keep readers interested in the conclusion" - School Library Journal

"[D]elivers a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking look at the dual toll grief and mental illness take on teenagers. The resulting denouement is chaotic and heart-wrenching." - Publisher's Weekly

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Stewart and Gerry (aka Frenchy) are from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds, but their friendship is fueled by their misfit status and their daily pot-smoking "pit stops." When they audition for the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha, their leader/follower relationship is cemented, and they surprise everyone with their talent. Their theatrical prowess, however, masks serious issues: Frenchy is trying to deal with his soldier-father's recent suicide, and Stewart's obsession with sabotaging the power company's wind turbines is evidence of his mental illness. When his increasingly erratic behavior puts both teens in danger, Frenchy is forced to admit to Stewart's schizophrenia and risks his own life to get him help. These teens have much more to them than meets the eye. The slow unraveling of their secrets provides insight into the often-complicated lives of adolescents bent on hiding their private demons from the world. Secondary characters, though less well developed, add depth to the story, and the adults exhibit a true desire to better themselves and/or to help the struggling protagonists. The relationships that develop between them and the boys add credibility. The narrative moves logically to its denouement, and the fast pace will keep readers interested in the conclusion. Religious epithets, derogatory terms (e.g., "faggot," "douche bag"), curses, slang, and raw language abound, adding a realistic feel to the dialogue. A good choice for broadminded young adult collections.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL
Kirkus Reviews

Stocky stoner prankster Frenchy and his wealthy hippie friend Stewart usually prefer to bide their time smoking weed and plotting tricks to unleash on their unsuspecting school, but when Stewart hears that the drama department is putting on The Man of La Mancha, he eagerly convinces Frenchy to audition with him.

Stewart and Frenchy land the lead roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, respectively, and all hell breaks loose as Frenchy and the cast watch Stewart's mind disintegrate into dementia in rehearsals as opening night approaches. Stahler knows high-school boyspeak well, and both characters walk and talk like real teen boys who've known each other forever. He successfully renders other characters as well, including a stage-manager love interest for Frenchy. He stumbles with plot, however. While the parallels between the boys' lives and the musical are obvious, the allusions will feel bizarre and random to teen readers not familiar with either the play or the Cervantes original, especially when Stewart shows up to class in full costume and makeup with a saber.

The end may or may not be a surprise to readers, but ultimately this story of a high-school friend trying to save his buddy will be tough to find an audience for. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811877800
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 5/25/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David Stahler Jr., is the author of several novels for young adults. He teaches high school English in the mountains of northern Vermont.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 21, 2013

    If I were a high school stoner, who wandered the halls aimlessly

    If I were a high school stoner, who wandered the halls aimlessly, managed to somehow get high every five minutes, pulled every prank imaginable in a pertinent effort to stick it to the man, the principal, and the school board, I would have considered this the crème de la crème, as I laughed giddily for nearly an hour, and then had a serious case of the munchies. But I was a massive nerd in high school, who held a certain amount of respect for the man and authority, probably didn’t even truly comprehend the concept of acting out, actually wanted to excel in my classes because I understood that it would affect my future, and tried real hard not to stand out in a bad way, already grasping that I was a bit different than the majority of my classmates and that I didn’t need to further emphasize the point.

    Either way, or even if you fall somewhere in between these two extremes, this novel spins an enjoyable yarn and provides lifelike characters with profuse problems better suited for linoleum floors and locker-lined walls. And it works, all of it. The struggle for an identity, the friend turned love interest, and the rebels trying to sing a different tune could have felt forced in less capable hands, instead these all felt real to me, and I was transported back to simpler times, minus the copious amounts of weed.

    SPINNING OUT filled my head with a hazy fog and had me twirling in a multitude of directions, happily soaking up the pages the way a beach bum might soak up the sun’s rays. Despite this read lacking volume, instead becoming easily consumable like Pop-Tarts, it packed plenty of sentiment and brought to mind the phrase stoners with heart. Stewart and Frenchy may have out smoked Cheech & Chong, but these two knuckleheads decided on a plan to leave more of a legacy than a few roaches and a men’s bathroom filled with the lingering effects of the sweet-smelling smoke.

    But every dynamic duo needs a Kaela. She was adorable, accomplished, admirable, available, articulate, attentive, adept, approachable, apt, addictive, awesome, and amazing. And if I were to describe this compelling novel, I could use many of the same terms. If you want a deep, thought-provoking, look-up-every-other-word-in-the-dictionary type of read, you may want to look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for amusement and the opportunity to get high for a few hours, and I mean that both literally and figuratively, you may just find yourself having a smokin’ good time.

    Robert Downs
    Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 20, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Frenchy, the best best friend a guy could have!

    Frenchy's had a hell of a year, and now he just wants to coast through his senior year. But Stewart wants to get involved and, as his best friend, Frenchy backs him up. Their relationship, mirrored in the master-servant/leader-follower relationship of Sancho and the Don, is the driving force of this book. And it's a serious and challenging relationship. Still, Spinning Out is mostly hilarious. It's not laugh-out-loud funny; it's more subtle than that. If this book were literary fiction instead of YA, it would be called "intelligent humor." The banter between Frenchy and Stewart is always snarky, and when you throw Ralph, their pot dealer/Frenchy's mom's boyfriend, into the mix, it's gets a little out of control. In a good way. That's why, when Stewart starts to act a bit...off, Frenchy doesn't think too much of it.

    Stewart falls further and further into the role of Don Quixote; it's great for the play, but hard on Frenchy. It's also hard on his budding relationship with stage manager Kaela (who is awesome-sauce). So he steps away, just a little bit. Finally able to claim a little bit of his own limelight in the role of Sancho, Frenchy separates himself just the tiniest bit from Stewart. They're still best friends (and Frenchy is a Great Friend), they're just no longer practically surgically attached.

    During all of this changing and growing and relationship stuff, there is still a show to put on! Long rehearsals, music practices, hot chicks with power tools building sets, it's all there. Theater geeks and show choir enthusiasts (and fans of books like My Invented Life) will love this aspect. All readers will be treated to a meaty story in the meantime.


    Book source: ARC provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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