Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day.
After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, unforgettable examination of love, loyalty, and the hard choices we must make to find where we truly belong.
Title: Harley in the Sky
By: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Published By: Ink Road
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Page Count: 384
Format: eBook/Kindle, Paperback
Content/Trigger Warnings from the Author’s Site: Depression, mood swings, references to suicidal ideation, heart attack
This was a truly beautiful book, it was a tribute from Akemi Dawn Bowman to mental health, dreams, and creativity. I loved the duality of Harley’s mental health and her cultural identity, they each were part of her reasons she felt the Circus was the place for her, someplace to call home because it contains those who were different. I could deeply relate to her, even despite the age difference between Harley’s youth and my…haha lack of it. It was her insecurities, her emotions as part of her mental health, and even the cultural identity issues.
I wanted to desperately give this book to sixteen-year-old me, to say that everyone’s normal was different, that you were not alone, but, the best I can do is recommend this to anyone who has ever felt alone due to being different [whether through mental health, cultural heritage disassociation, or just for not fitting in]. I loved the show of the relationship between Harley and her parents, the growth between them, and especially the connection to her family as a whole as it changed through the book.
I always say there’s not enough showing of parental relationships in YA books, and this one was definitely the exception to the rule, I adored that we got to see such complex and deep bonds with both her parents. This doesn’t mean the relationships were perfect, but, it showed that there was love, even if some wrong decisions were made, on both ends.
Harley is just this MC that despite the differences between her and myself I really felt this connection like I said earlier, I wish I could have given this book to a teenage me. I struggled so much with not understanding how to fit in a world where I looked like one thing but represented another or the fact that I had a different version of normal when it came to my mental health. So, I can’t give it to teenage me, but I can highly recommend this for any and every teen who may show an interest in this.
We get to see Harley grow so much, to learn a vast amount about herself and life in a relatively short time period the ending was, plainly put, perfection.
The circus was, of course, my favourite, I loved that there were different circuses and the performers and crew were a lot of fun to read about. Vivien and Vas were probably my two favourite characters, aside from Harley of course! I look forward to reading more by Bowman.
Thank you to Akemi Dawn Bowman for an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion!
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