Stephanie’s family have moved from Sydney to Toowomba, a move that forces her to leave her best friend, her school and her passion in life: dance lessons. While the rest of the family settle easily into their new lives, Stephanie is teased and has trouble fitting in to her new school until Jason, one of the senior boys, asks her out. Stephanie falls in love with Jason, and doesn’t see the way he is manipulating her to the point where she has turned her back on everything she once valued. Her descent is not helped by her parents, who seem to have little time for her and no appreciation of the difficulties she is facing.
Spiralling Out of Control is a well-written but challenging read. I think the strong and consistent third-person point of view has captured Stephanie’s descent into mistreatment and exploitation very clearly, as well as detailing the consequences of her decisions. It’s an interesting story, because although Stephanie was forced in some respects, this was still clearly a consequence of the decisions she made, a series of seemingly-insignificant decisions that compound in an almost-ruined life. And she loved him, which was her excuse for going along with everything he wanted. I don’t entirely understand this mindset, but I know it exists, and Stephanie illustrates it well.
Spiralling Out of Control is not a pretty story, nor is it an easy read. There are several unsavoury characters and a number of scenes where Stephanie, Jason and others are falling headlong into sin (to use Christianese—a trap Spiralling Out of Control does not fall into). It’s not graphically portrayed in that there is little or no description. But the images are still there. In fact, parts of Spiralling Out of Control are a study in how much can be implied with a few well-chosen words.
Stephanie’s descent is very well portrayed. But what is missing for me, as a reader, is Stephanie’s change of heart. But this is the first book in a series, so I'll have to keep reading to find the end of the story ... Well worth reading.