“Earnest, poetic.” —Booklist
“Raw, engaging.” —Kirkus Reviews
The Greatest Showman meets This Is Us by way of Sarah Dessen in this heart-wrenching, hopeful contemporary novel about a multiracial teen who risks it all to follow her dreams by joining the circus, from the award-winning author of Starfish.
Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day.
After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, unforgettable examination of love, loyalty, and the hard choices we must make to find where we truly belong.
Harley Yoshi Milano, 18, has never felt like she belongs. The Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and Irish mixed-race teen questions her cultural identity and role as daughter of parents who run Teatro della Notte, a Las Vegas circus. When her parents tell her she must attend college instead of training as a trapeze artist, Harley lands an internship with a well-known aerialist at a competing circus, but only in exchange for betraying those she loves. While most of the performers refuse to help the new addition, hard work and determination secure her admirers, friends, and a love interest as her dreams start to become reality. Dark clouds loom as Harley struggles to maintain healthy relationships and keep her depression at bay, and she struggles with suicidal ideation. Bowman (Starfish) creates an emotionally driven novel brimming with exuberant details of circus life and aerial routines. Quick chapters culminate with riveting cliffhangers that keep readers hooked to the story. Elongated interior monologues occur throughout, but touching scenes between Harley and her parents are sensitively written alongside a thoughtful, unresolved exploration of mental health. Ages 12 up.