Harley Milano has always dreamed of being a trapeze artist. Her parents run a famous circus in Las Vegas and she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing and hoping that she could be up there herself one day.
After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she goes to school rather than me an aerialist. So, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. Whilst there she is thrust into a world that is brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work work, passion and collaboration. All of this happens whilst Harley comes to terms with the truth of her family and her past as well as reckon with the sacrifices she has made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.
Everyone knows how much I love Akemi Dawn Bowman’s previous books Summer Bird Blue and Starfish, so as soon as I found out about Harley in the Sky I was instantly intrigued. This book is wonderful and Akemi really is a stunning writer.
I have never really been to the circus, I have been to Blackpool Tower’s Circus ‘act’ but that is about it. They have never interested me and the same goes for books set at the circus or surrounding a circus. This book has changed my mind completely and I would like to read more circus books in the future! It reminded me of how as children we thought we could run away and join the circus, this book is the reality of that. This book makes circuses seem like a truly magical place.
Whilst reading this book you can really tell how much Harley loves the circus. It is such a strong emotion that runs right the way through the story. Harley made me feel like the circus is magical and extremely special. Yes, Harley is a chaotic character and has chaotic emotions, she does make mistakes and has her flaws but she is human and she is wonderful. She has such a passional for becoming an aerialist and you want her to become an aerialist too.
The mental health aspects of this book are excellent. No labels are explicitly used, you are allowed to make your own views of each character without having their mental health illnesses brought into your views. I love how freely Akemi talks about mental health in her books and she always does it incredibly.
This book shows the true reality of what life is really like. Life is complicated and chaotic and this shows just that. Some situations in life have no right answers and this shows just that. Harley lives her life through all this chaos be it good or bad. There were some situation in which I feel things moved a little too fast or weren’t developed enough, but that is just my opinion of the situations.
Akemi has a spectacular way of writing family relationships, be that found family or otherwise. This book is no different, I love how Harley’s actual family are written and then her found family. With this book the setting really comes to life in your head with Akemi’s descriptions and beautiful writing.
Overall, there aren’t enough excellent words I can use to describe this book. Just know that it is wonderful, truly magical and is well worth the read!