The Rambling Writer Book Review: SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND by David Valdes

A lively YA time-travel romp with an important mission – and attitude.

I’ve been reading several books selected by the International Pulpwood Queens & Timber Guys Book Club, now that my Book View Cafe novel Pause has been chosen as a 2022 title. I just “met” David Valdes this week via the weekly Zoom book conversations hosted by Kathy L. Murphy for PQTG authors and readers, and he has had a terrific career on several fronts. (Go to www.thepulpwoodqueens.com for schedule and links.)

From the opening pages of Spin Me Right Round, author David Valdes hooked me with the sassy voice of his gay teenager Luis:

“I like to think I rule Antic Springs Academy. Before you get all oh my god, a prep school narrator and throw up in your mouth, let me be clear: ASA isn’t that kind of academy….  I like to look like money without being money…. Today, I am wearing a silk bowling shirt emblazoned with ironic ‘50s pin-ups, tucked into massive cargo pants that are cinched perfectly at my waist by a faux-ammo belt. My best friend Nix says I look like an influencer sponsored by a brand of questionable taste, which is, like, perfect. My boyfriend Cheng on the other hand—well, he tries to be chill when he sees me in the parking lot.”

First-person novels can go flat if the main character/narrator doesn’t have a strong and compelling voice, and Luis has no problem “ruling” this story. I found myself chuckling at his outrageous opinions and descriptions while empathizing with his drive to make his high school truly inclusive of all genders. When he’s hit in the head and time-travels back to the same school of the 80s, we are “back to the future” with a mission: to save Chaz, a closeted gay student who had mysteriously fallen into a quarry on prom night– or had been pushed to his death.

To complicate matters, Luis has to deal with his own parents as students at the then-strictly Christian school where any hint of deviation from the cis-gender norm is cause for immediate expulsion.

Luis makes friends with his lively young mother whom he refers to as Ma-Elena, while trying to avoid his homophobic bully of a father. There are a lot of twists and turns that keep the tension rising, even as Luis and his new friends provide plenty of humor and fish-out-of-time conundrums. And Luis matures as he learns to question his own surface assumptions about his young parents and new friends.

This is a terrific story with valuable subtext for both YA and adult readers. I loved it! Do take Spin Me Right Round for a spin and see for yourself.

*****

You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Café is Pause, First Place winner of the Chanticleer Somerset Award and an International Pulpwood Queens Book Club selection. “A must-read novel about friendship, love, and killer hot flashes.” (Mindy Klasky). Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at www.sarastamey.com

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