Book Review: The Circus (Olivia Levez)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Pages: 288

Release Date: June 13th 2017

Summary:

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?

Olivia Levez takes you into the very heart of a girl who wants so hard to be lost, but saves herself through a powerful friendship and the awakening of a need for home.

Review:

 I loved Olivia Levez’s first novel. It was gripping and powerful and her writing was a joy to read. After such an outstanding debut I think she had a lot to live up to, and this book didn’t disappoint!

Willow is a rich girl who has everything she wants, except her dad’s attention. On the eve of his wedding, she ruins his bride-to-be’s wedding dress, climbs through a window and escapes, deciding to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a circus performer. Things go downhill when all of her money is stolen and she only has the thief to befriend her.

As with Levez’s first book, The Island, I found the main character in this could often be unlikeable. Sometimes she came across as very selfish. Although I could sympathise with the lack of love and connection she felt from her dad, it’s also hard to ignore the fact that she was in a privileged position and sometimes it felt like she was playing at being homeless, compared to others she met who had no choice. I like difficult characters like this though: I rooted for her enough to enjoy the story, but all her faults just made her more real to me. Real people are flawed and you can’t like someone 100% of the time. And no matter how priviledged you are, you still have feelings and problems, which I feel people can forget sometimes.

I was surprised at how forgiving she was of Suz. If someone stole all of my savings and effectively made me homeless, I think I’d be mad at them forever. But the friendship they developed was really sweet, without being cloying. They supported each other but also both still had their own needs to look out for, and I was glad at times that Willow didn’t hold back.

The book’s in really short chapters and it made me just want to read more and more. When the end approached and things got more climatic, I raced through it and was completely unable to put it down. There was a really shocking, sad moment and a heart-pounding finale. It’s definitely a bittersweet ending, though some of the more sweet bits made me tear up, which is unusual for me!

This is a fast paced, gripping story of friendship, belonging and family. The characters are colourful, with great depth and will stay with you long after you finish reading.

4

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