HARLEY IN THE SKY by Akemi Dawn Bowman


Age Range: 14 - 18
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When her parents insist on college, Harley runs away from home to join a circus.

Harley Milano grew up in her parents’ circus, watching rehearsals and performances and seeing all the work her parents put into managing and creating new acts. And she’s put in time herself, practicing as much as she can on the trapeze. She wants to perform, and she’s ready to be an apprentice, but her parents refuse to entertain her plans. Angry and heartbroken, Harley takes a chance opportunity to join a rival circus, betraying her family in the process. But she believes her dream is worth it, no matter how worried her best friend or her parents might be. Harley throws herself into proving her aerial talents, forging tenuous new friendships and grappling with her constantly shifting, intense emotions. Bowman (Summer Bird Blue, 2018, etc.) explores the costs and rewards of pursuing a dream while also incorporating discussion of mental health and its effects on relationships through generations. Harley is biracial, her mother being Chinese and Irish and her father Japanese and Italian, and she frequently reflects on the influence her mixed heritage has had on her identity. As Harley is torn between familial expectations and her own aspirations, this novel will appeal to those searching for their own places in the world.

Mental health, family and friendship, and the circus: all told in a raw, engaging voice. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5344-3712-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2020