A stunning, multigenerational story about two teenagers: Victoria, who joins the circus in 1965, and her granddaughter, Callie, who leaves the circus fifty years later. Perfect for fans of This is Us.
In 1965 seventeen-year-old Victoria, having just escaped an unstable home, flees to the ultimate place for dreamers and runaways--the circus. Specifically, the VanDrexel Family Circus where, among the lion tamers, roustabouts, and trapeze artists, Victoria hopes to start a better life.
Fifty years later, Victoria's sixteen-year-old granddaughter Callie is thriving. A gifted and focused tightrope walker with dreams of being a VanDrexel high wire legend just like her grandmother, Callie can't imagine herself anywhere but the circus. But when Callie's mother accepts her dream job at an animal sanctuary in Florida just months after Victoria's death, Callie is forced to leave her lifelong home behind.
Feeling unmoored and out of her element, Callie pores over memorabilia from her family's days on the road, including a box that belonged to Victoria when she was Callie's age. In the box, Callie finds notes that Victoria wrote to herself with tips and tricks for navigating her new world. Inspired by this piece of her grandmother's life, Callie decides to use Victoria's circus prowess to navigate the uncharted waters of public high school.
Across generations, Victoria and Callie embrace the challenges of starting over, letting go, and finding new families in unexpected places.
Fiedler (the Mouseheart series) offers a well-executed intergenerational story told in dual narratives. In 1965, 16-year-old Victoria escapes her abusive father to join the circus and discovers a talent and love for tightrope walking. Her granddaughter Callie, 15, who has grown up in the circus and was trained by Victoria, carries the same passion for walking the high wire. Callie's mother, Quinn, also born and raised in the circus, has devoted her life to caring for its animals. When the animals are moved to a sanctuary in Florida, Quinn is hired as its executive director, uprooting and devastating Callie. Victoria narrates in a courageous first-person, present-tense voice, while Callie's third-person, past-tense story reflects the powerlessness she feels in her forced removal. Fiedler explores the bond between grandmother and granddaughter with moving details; handwritten notes that Victoria wrote to herself during key moments of her life, for example, serve as sustenance and inspiration for the girl. The theme of displacement unites the two stories, but Callie's difficulties adjusting to her new environment are far less compelling than Victoria's suspenseful situation, which has a momentum and emotional heft that stands on its own. Ages 12 up.