Girl on a Wire

January 15, 2016
Girl on a Wire Book Cover Girl on a Wire
Cirque American
Gwenda Bond
Young Adult
Skyscape
October 1st, 2014
eBook
386
Kindle First

A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American!

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

(via Goodreads)

 

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. tightrope walkerHer 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.poster-ringlingbros 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. For example, Sam and Dia end up together first, making two elicit relationships a part of this storyline. And when Sam ends up dying instead of Jules, well, I was disappointed but also really happy we didn’t follow everything from Billy Shakes to a T. Tarot cards, magic, bad luck, and circus tradition gave this story a fresh feel.

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. It’s not often YA books explore teenagers exploring and learning about both their sexuality and individuality simultaneously. A bi-curious Garcia sister who dresses in snappy suits? More please! I really wish we had learned more about Dita in this book.

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.bird millman 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. Super spoiler. The ending is far too Scooby Doo-esque. Casanova “Novio” Garica, who was a subtle background character mostly, suddenly comes out and says, “Yes! It was I! And I would have gotten away with it too…” This is extra weird because there are a few plot holes around how he could have done all this. There was little to no solid evidence for anyone to by the culprit by the time we got to the end of the book, really. But, that also made Novio the only viable candidate. All wrapped up in a pretty bow and DONE. I just wasn’t a fan.

Also, I really think this might be the year for champagne quotes!

Drink Champagne during the day

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.

3 stars

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