Summary (from the publisher): 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.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
I never thought I would prep for writing a review by watching trapeze videos, but here we are!
Akemi Dawn Bowman’s Harley in the Sky follows Harley’s dream of becoming a trapeze artist. After watching aerialists perform all her life in her parents’ famous Las Vegas circus, Harley is ready for her turn to be up there in the big top. After her parents refuse to let Harley to train with the lead artist and insist on Harley going to college instead, she feels that she has no other choice but to join the rival circus, Maison du Mystère. While training and trying to prove her worth, Harley must also face how her decisions affect her family, friends, and the past that she cannot let herself repeat.
When I picked up Harley in the Sky in early February, I had read only one 5 star read so far in 2020. That quickly changed as soon as I started reading it, soon becoming one of my favorite books of the year! I devoured Harley in the Sky over the course of three sittings, instantly falling in love with Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing style and atmosphere. Harley in the Sky originally had me intrigued for its circus setting and The Greatest Showman meets Sarah Dessen premise. I am here to confirm that the book absolutely delivered on both fronts, while delviving into such important storylines revolving around family, friendship, mental health, identity, and yes, romance.
Although Harley in the Sky is certainly more than a ‘circus book,’ I can’t help but talk about this setting first. This is the first book I’ve ever read that takes place in the circus realm, and Akemi Dawn Bowman does such a fantastic job of setting the reader in this world. From the performers to the circus tents themselves, she does such as great job describing life at both Teatro dell Notte and Maison du Mystère.