Release Date: May 04, 2017
Why would a girl who has everything want to run away and never be found?
Willow has staged runaways ever since she was a little girl. She has everything a young person should want: a rich daddy, clothes, money, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. In reality, she has everything except the thing she really wants: a father who cares enough to find her.
Aged sixteen, on the eve of her father’s wedding, she ruins the bride’s dress and escapes through a window, determined never to return. Her missing mother was a circus performer, and Willow wants to follow in her footsteps. But the performers she meets don’t want her. When her last bit of money is stolen by Suze, another runaway girl she thought she could trust, Willow becomes really homeless. Then Suze comes tumbling back into her life and a desperate Willow has to decide whether to trust her all over again . . .
So begins their frightening, exhilarating odyssey through hunger, performance, desperation and dreams. Will they both survive and will Willow make it to the circus of her imagining?
*Thank you to the publisher, Oneworld Publications, and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Reading through the blurb, you’d think that the story is set a few decades back (at least I did), so it came as a surprise to find out it’s in modern time and it makes the book more interesting. The blurb also pretty much summarize half of the book already which is a bit disappointing since you can already guess what’s about to happen. Still, The Circus is a really good read.
Willow Stephens, our 16-year old main character, has been running away since she was a little girl. Nothing really serious, just trying to hide from everyone and see who will notice that she’s gone. Although they are rich and she has everything anyone could want, there is only one thing she truly wants: her father’s love and affection. So when her multimillionaire dad decided to marry his young assistant, Willow planned on running away for real. On the eve of the wedding, she sneaks out from their mansion with a few belongings and her gap year money. She is determined to go far away from home and never come back. Her mom left her when she’s only three years old to go back to her passion. The circus. And Willow will do everything to be a circus performer, too. Only, her gymnastic training is not enough to impress the performers. She needs to work on her talent more. Also, she needs to find a job to survive. But being a runaway, the choices are limited. She may look like an ordinary girl, far from the rich girl that she was, but her gullible attitude and her rich girl accent attracts people who took advantage of her. One of them was Suz, another runaway. She thought she finally found a friend but Suz stole all the money that was left in her stash and Willow’s life make a turn for the worst. And then, Suz came back into her life, she was angry but also desperate. She doesn’t really have a choice but to trust Suz. What else is there to lose? But how the two of them are going to survive? Will Willow ever make it to the circus? And how can she stay hidden when her face is plaster all over the TV and newspapers?
It is titled The Circus, but there is actually not a lot of circus stuff that happened. Mostly, it is all about Willow’s struggle to survive outside her privileged world. I was so prepared to be sucked into the world of circus, but I was given just a snippet. Though Willow’s story can be interesting, I can’t help but think how she’s behaving like a brat. I was expecting her reasons to be a lot deeper than dad-is-getting-married-I-don’t-belong-here-anymore. I think it would justify her running away if she founds out her dad’s secret right away and not on the later part of the story. At least, she would not appear so shallow and a rich spoiled brat who doesn’t get her way. Because to be honest, it actually looks just like that. Aside from that, it is a pretty solid book. Willow appears to be smart but can be naive and gullible at times, that she can’t see danger even if it’s screaming right in front of her. I also can’t help but sympathize with her, she suffers the consequence from the lies and secrets of her parents.
Suz is as interesting as Willow, and so is her story. But there’s not a lot of it, too. She can be painfully annoying most of the time but given the things she’d been through, who can actually blame her if she’s acting that way. Also, Suz and Willow’s time together is one of the things I enjoyed in this book. I like Beanie, too. Willow’s best friend. She is a cool friend to have but there’s not a lot of her in the story, too. Even her stepmother, Kayleigh Ann, is not so bad as compared to what Willow wanted to believe.
I may not like Willow that much as the main character but The Circus is actually a solid read. The story may not involve a lot of circus, but for some reason, it still works for me. I was left with a heavy feeling after reading it. The story doesn’t only revolve around Willow, but also her friendship with Suz. She may not be an ideal friend for some, but she’s become Willow’s anchor.
The Circus is a story about an unusual friendship, struggling to survive (and hide), and desperate need to be loved. It is also about one’s hopes and dreams and doing things to somewhat achieve it. It’s not your usual YA story, but I find it engaging and hard to put down. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was quite happy on how things turned out.
And, oh, look at that cover. Isn’t is cute? Don’t forget to grab a copy of The Circus, it will be hitting the shelves real soon.
(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)
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