Spinning Out

Spinning Out

by David Stahler Jr.

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Spinning Out 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
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
elizardkwik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Frenchy (as he is known by everyone) is an unmotivated, uninvolved senior, just trying to make it through his last year of high school and move past the tragic and recent loss of his father. His best friend, Stewart, has other ideas - he wants to try out for the big high school production of The Man of La Mancha, perhaps inspired by his family's intense dislike of the wind towers that have been installed in their small town in Maine. To nearly everyone's surprise, Frenchy and Stewart are given the leads in the play, though Frenchy often has to be bribed, coerced, and threatened into continuing in the role of Stewart's loyal servant, especially when Stewart starts to carry things a little too far.This book is definitely intended for older readers, with numerous references to drugs, Frenchy's tendency to use mature language, and some of the issues that are covered. Considering this, it was a decent story that brought to life the characters and storyline from The Man of La Mancha in a modern day setting. However, Frenchy was, perhaps intentionally, an apathetic character, but almost to the point of annoyance. The only points he seemed like even a remotely interesting character were during his sessions with Mr. Bryant, the school guidance counselor. This reminded me a lot of Catcher in the Rye, so perhaps it would appeal more to fans of that style and voice.
ReDefiningAwesome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well Written. A few hard topics are covered. There is some cursing in it, so I wouldn't suggest it to anyone under 13.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Trapped between his desire to spend his senior year doing nothing too strenuous, and his best friend's increasing obsession with high-tech windmills and the school play, Frenchy buckles. He's stuck playing Sancho to Stewart's Don Quixote. But as Stewart's behavior spirals out of control and his own homelife frays, Frenchy wonders if he's strong enough to deal. After all, his father wasn't....I wish Stahler had kept the drug use to a minimum, but other than that this is a strong story with a positive message.
picardyrose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Teens take on lead roles in "Man of La Mancha" as one of them loses his marbles. Nicely paced, logical plot development.
GRgenius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are so many layers to this story, even more so than at first glance. It's being toted as a GLEE-like mashup with a serious look at the bonds of friendship. They are not far off course with that description, but it really is just scratching the surface. First, let me warn you of a few things....for those sensitive to them or younger readers, there is drug use, swearing, suicide and mental illness within this story. It's a fictitious look at something that could happen in real life to you, to me....to your best friend George down the street. In fact, a lot of what occurs is probably happening in one away or another in your neighborhood right now....that's the scary reality of a story like this. It hits "home" whether you have actually experienced the situations first hand or not. Now back to the other story aspects....It deals with all those off colored items mentioned above, but it also takes a look at family and friendship...with the realization that often they become one in the same. If not for Frenchy, Stewart would have been beside himself....but the same could be said of Frenchy in his times of need and there have been plenty especially with the recent passing of his father (and certainly with how he passed away). Then take the relationship between Stewart and his hippie parents. It serves its purpose for allowing him free reign of his life, but we also see how that lose approach can create other problems (such as trust, and hesitance to step in when it suits the situation verses their needs) that may not be anticipated at first. Move to Frenchy's Mom, a dedicated woman of today that works long hours to provide for her family, but loves them all the same. Enter Ralph, potential love interest and local drug dealer...sorta. Even though he's the supplier for most of the area, you'll find it hard to really dislike him....much as Frenchy chastises himself about from time to time. Suffice it to say that person to person bonds are explored to their fullest.Aside from the story, readers also get a bit of a culture lesson from the smarty pants side of Stewart and courtesy of Cervantes. Never heard of Man of La Mancha? Don't know who Don Quixote is? Sancho is not ringing a bell? They will be by stories end. It's a great way to expose readers of all ages to the classics and instill that seed of curiosity to investigate the work further. Just try to escape this story without singing the infamous "I, Don Quixote" song....betcha it won't happen. It's the perfect play for the leading men in our story. In fact, the events that occur pretty much play out like a modern day Quixote-type adventure....in its full rainbow of colors.In short, the characters are easy to relate to, the story believable, the ending unimaginable....all of which add up to a great reading experience waiting for you beyond the greenish haze from the Smoking Rock (which by the way, isn't what you think....you'll have to read it to find out more). Recommended read for older teens through adults for the very reasons mentioned previously (no worries, I won't re-hash it....get it?).
shootingstar2428 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading SPINNING OUT, I thought it would be a light-hearted story of two boys growing up and finding themselves when they break stereotypes and join the school musical. However, I soon found that this was no such book. I immediately noticed the excessive drug references and f-bombs and worried that I wouldn't be able to share this book with my 9th and 10th grade students when I was finished. This book actually has a very serious tone (with a few needed comical moments) and reminded me of the movie BLACK SWAN as one of the main characters is literally driven crazy, in part to being the lead in the play.I gave this book four stars because it held my interest with a well-paced plot, but at times, I felt that the writing could have been better or the characters more developed. Overall, though, it was an interesting story with an original take on the coming-of-age novel.
Conner23456 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book because of the story line and the development of the plot. Also, I could connect with the main people in the book because I am around the same age. I think I might go ahead and read some of David Stahler other works.Thanks Librarything for having the giveaway.
mamzel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is told from the viewpoint of Frenchy, a teenager who has recently lost his father who committed suicide. Frenchy's best friend, Stewart, is an intelligent, college-bound student who enjoys pulling pranks. He convinces Frenchy to join him for one more - take parts in their high school's production of Man of La Mancha. It takes some convincing but Frenchy goes along, amazed that his friend learns all the lines for the lead before they even try out. They are cast in the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panzo and throw themselves into preparing for the performances. Frenchy grows concerned when his friend buys himself a full set of armor and a sword and wears them to school every day. He refers to himself as the character and calls his friend, Sancho. He is seen talking to himself and it appears his grades are slipping. Things get very alarming when they are harassed by bullies and Stewart holds the sword to the throat of one of them.When it is obvious to Frenchy that something very serious is wrong with Stewart, he has to decide whether or not to take his concerns to the adults who could give Stewart the psychiatric care he needs. Just like Don Quixote, Stewart's grasp of realty was slipping, and it was up to Frenchy/Sancho to watch over him and make sure he got the care that was necessary.I read this book right on the heels of attending a high school production of Oklahoma and a JC production of Gypsy so the backstage scenes were quite fun and interesting. Also, Man of La Mancha is one of my favorite musicals so I knew the story this book was emulating.This book should appeal to readers who take part in stage productions and would really reach anyone who has a friend with a serious problem and is faced with the dilemma of protecting his privacy or getting help for his friend.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Frenchy and Stewart are best friends. After his father committed suicide, Frenchy needed his friend's support even more. So when Stewart decides they should try out for the school play, Man of La Mancha, Frenchy goes along. Stewart will be playing the knight who tilts at windmills, and Frenchy will be his loyal sidekick. But Stewart seems to be losing his grasp on reality and may really believe he is Don Quixote.
BridgetMary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To echo another reviewer, I too was surprised by the book's incredibly serious subject matter. From the promotional material, I expected the novel to be a comedic look at the inner-workings and backstage drama of a high school musical. While the novel definitely had its funny moments, Stahler's novel is ultimately a very serious and moving portrait of a young man's struggles with mental illness. Honestly, I did not expect to like the novel. The story is inextricably interwoven with that of Cervantes's Don Quixote and I usually find these types of texts incredibly dry. It's almost as if they're trying too hard to stake out their claim as "serious" pieces of literature. Happily, Stahler's novel proved to be the complete opposite of my expectations. Perhaps he has his job as a high school teacher to thank for this, but I think Stahler has a true gift for writing "real" characters. The narrative voice of the novel's protagonist, Frenchy, was particularly phenomenal. Yes, as one reviewer mentioned there is a lot of cursing and discussion of drug use, but it fit in the context of the character and was far from gratuitous.Aside from great characters, Stahler also weaves an intricate plot that had me hooked from the first page. I was worried that I wouldn't really understand the novel, never having read Don Quixote, but I was completely invested in the characters and their incredibly important story. I will happily recommend this novel to friends and students alike!
Jadesbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I recommended it to many of my family and friends. I enjoyed it that much. This is a story about two friends, in their senior year of high school. Frenchy, the kid with baggage from a poor family, and Stewart, the kid everyone likes and whose family is the richest in their small town. The story picks up with their senior year, and we learn quickly these two boys are not as innocent as their parents would like them to be. From smoking pot every day to pranks at school. When Stewart suggest he and Frenchy try out for the school play, Frenchy has a hard time saying no, and also a hard time believing it's not a prank that Stewart is planning. They end up getting the leads in the play Man of La Mancha, and from that point on, nothing is the same. Their friendship is tested by the stress of the play as well as the emotional roller coaster ride of emotional and mental stress. This is one of the few books I have read that deals with mental illness, and does so with as much accuracy as possible. I did not feel like the story or emotions were ever forced and that the author stayed on point with his story. Well done!
kikotomo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Frenchy and Stewart are best friends. Frenchy lacks motivation and just wants to get through his senior year of high school in one piece after his father shot himself in the family's trailer. Stewart is brilliant, seemingly well put together, albeit a bit odd. All is going status quo until Stewart talks Frency into auditioning for roles in the school's play Man of La Mancha. At first, Frenchy believes that this is the latest in Stewart's long line of practical jokes. However, when they land the lead roles of Don Quixote and Sancho, Frenchy quickly learns that Stewart is serious about the play. As curtain time draws nearer, Stewart begins acting stranger than normal to the point of concern. Will Frenchy be able to handle his friend without sending him over the edge?I thoroughly enjoyed this book, though I don't believe that the focus on drug use was totally necessary. The characters are very relate-able to. Stahler's ability to tell such a story revolving around one incident (the play) is amazing. The character development is wonderful. I felt like I got to know the two main characters like they were two dudes at my high school. Though this book is not jam packed with action, it is well-written and thoughtful.
Readermom68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I had a hard time getting started with this book, but I gave it a chance and it hooked me. The story centers around two young me, both high school seniors. One, Frenchy, is coping with the aftermath of his soldier-father's suicide. The other, Stewart, as becomes apparent, is dealing with the onset of mental illness. The story follows them as they pursue and win leads in their high school musical production of Don Quixote. While the mirroring of Stewart's descent into mental illiness with Don Quixote's can be viewed as a bit heavy handed from an adult point of view, it's unlikely to be so for it's primary audience of young adults, who most likely don't know the story of Don Quixote. I thought the voice of all the characters was refreshingly acurate. While there is 'language' that will keep this from being usable in many classrooms, it is a true representation of many teenagers' word choices and I think YA readers will relate to this. While Stewart's actions are, at times, over the top in terms of believability they work with in the context of the story. Moreover, Frenchy's growing confusion and concern over his friend's behavior as he struggles with his own recovery ring true, as does the conclusion of the book.
wiremonkey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reviewed from a Librarything Early Reviewer copyThere are some books that surprise you. You pick them up with low expectations, thinking that this is not the kind of book for you and opening it with a sense of duty. Oh, fine. I really should review this. It was sent to me for free after all. That sort of thing.But then you read a few pages and although the story has no werewolves, vampires or any supernatural creatures, no murders or corporate secrets being traded to the highest bidder, the book has your full attention.This was the case with Stahler's Spinning Out, a simple tale of two high school buddies in their senior year of high school. Frenchie and Stewart are the clowns of the school, though they both do well academically, they are the non-joiners, the outcasts. But when Stewart gets it into his quirky head that they should try out for the school musical, Man of La Mancha, the fit hits the shan as they say. Stewart gets the role of Don Quixote and Frenchy gets the role of Sancho Panza, a fitting metaphor for their friendship and personality.Frenchy (so named because of his French-Canadian background and the fact that he is husky and hirsute- a stereotype I take issue with Mr. Stahler) thinks Stewart is joking, that it is a big lark. But it is soon clear that playing Don Quixote means way more to Stewart than Frenchy could have guessed. Stewart begins to wear his costume all the time, and is rarely out of character. When Frenchy hears Stewart battling the voices in his head, he realises that there is something very wrong with his friend and he doesn't know what to do. Unfortunately, this is just the horrifying scenario he has just lived through with his father. An ex-soldier fresh from Iraq, he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and committed suicide, leaving Frenchy and his mother to wonder how they could have stopped him. frenchy is haunted by the "if I had just..." syndrome familiar to the surviving family members.At first glance, this is a story with a predictable plotline. Disinterested, troubled kid comes of age by taking a chance and finding out he is not such a loser as he supposes. But Stahler has made it so much richer. He deftly weaves themes of mental illness, suicide and depression through out the book without ever getting maudlin.I think I actually heard the creaking of my heart as it cracked just a little for Stewart and Frenchy.I suprised the hell out of myself by not being able to put this book down. The characters are rich and nuanced. The plot swift and suspenseful. There are several scenes centered around battling windmills. What's not to like?I would recommend this to...I don't know who I would recommend this to. It would be a good one for teen boys who don't like to read maybe. But alas, I don't know many of those. I would also recommend this to teen girls who like coming of age stories- fans of Nick Hornby maybe, or Gordon Korman... Hell, I would recommend this to anyone who likes Don Quixote, or even just a good story.
Lawral More than 1 year ago
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.