Girl on a Wire was a Kindle First pick for me. I really enjoyed Water for Elephants, and it introduced me to the magic of the circus. I was hoping to find some more of that magic in this book.
Julieta Maroni is in the family business: The circus business. Her father leads The Amazing Maronis and is the best wire-walker alive. And Jules is quickly following in his footsteps. When the family is reluctant to accept an offer to join the Cirque American, Jules steps in and forces their hand. This is their big break! However, a two-decade rivalry between the Flying Garcias (trapeze artists) who are also touring with the Cirque starts causes tension. Finding an unlikely friend in Romeo “Remy” Garcia, the two must come to the truth around this rivalry and the bad luck which follows.
Yup! A Romeo and Juliet circus mystery. Who could say no?
The parallels between Romeo and Juliet are perfect. The old family rivalry. The fist fight at the beginning (Poor Tybalt– I mean, Sam!). The secrets. The children knowing they couldn’t be seen with people in the other family. Forbidden love. However, I appreciate how they aren’t drawn out too much. There are subtle variations which keep us on our toes.
I loved reading about the performances. Remy is a trapeze artist trying for the neigh impossible quad-summersault. Jules is a wire-walker inspired by Bird Millman. Taking a page out of Bird’s book, Jules learns to walk a wire between buildings. Bond does a magnificent job getting the reader to be actively afraid for the characters. The tension building made me anxious as I wondered, “Is this where Jules falls?!”
I would never trust anyone who didn’t get at least a little nervous on the cusp of doing something important to them in front of other people. – Jules Maroni
The female characters portrayed in this novel are all quite strong. This is to be expected from a circus; you must be brave and willing to take risks to be a circus performer! I appreciated that Jules was not the only headstrong female. Particularly, I felt like the character Aphrodite “Dita” Garcia was one worth noticing. We did not get to know her character well, but we did get to see a lot of her character growth.
The strong personalities of all the characters, sex aside, helped solidify them to the reader. This is importance since the cast at a circus if fairly large. In a WhoDoneIt? sense, this was also important. As Jules and Remy were trying to discover who was behind all the bad luck talismans, I found I was able to weave my own web of suspects even based on the minimal interactions with a few characters.
Learning about the circus was a lot of fun. It never felt like a lecture or an essay. In fact, all the circus comments came in fairly innocuously. Often times I learned about a tradition or superstition or something without even realizing it. In particular, I enjoyed reading about Bird Millman. However, I felt like the magic and mystique of the circus was underplayed overall. Perhaps that is important in this case– since Jules and Remy are working together to uncover whether the family feud mystery is truly based on magic or not. Oh, magical realism. You leave me so conflicted.
My biggest issue was with the ending.
Also, I really think this might be the year for champagne quotes!
All in all, quite a delightful read. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in YA Romeo/Juliet retellings. For sure. Plus, Gwenda Bond is planning on writing a
Plus, Gwenda Bond is planning on writing a collection of stand-alone novels set in the Cirque American. No more about Jules and Remy, but they might appear as ancillary characters in other books. Something to consider looking out for.