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Circa Now Hardcover – May 27, 2014


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423176391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423176398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #930,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—Teased at school, Circa is happiest in her family's photo studio, restoring photos on her father's computer. In one instant, it all changes when her dad is crushed to death by a tree during a tornado. Her father was the one who held together her mother during her bouts of deep depression; worked on a Memory Wall at the local home for dementia patients; and gave Circa a Shopt folder, a collection of silly photoshopped photos and accompanying stories. Soon after the fatal accident, the 12-year-old and her mother discover a teenage boy on their doorstep, covered with scars and holding the last picture her father worked on. He has no memory of any life before the storm, and they name him Miles. With a focus on finding out who this boy is and where he came from, her mother starts facing her anxiety and depression. Slowly, mother and daughter begin to heal with the addition of Miles in their lives. Though the premise of this book is unique, the chapters on Circa's life before the storm makes for a slow start. The inclusion of the photoshopped pictures throughout the text is clever and adds to the juxtaposition throughout the text of grief, sadness, and desperation, mixed with the laughter and happiness Circa feels about her new situation. Yet the characters seem distant instead of emotionally raw. An unusual story for a limited readership.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA

Review

Teased at school, Circa is happiest in her family's photo studio, restoring photos on her father's computer. In one instant, it all changes when her dad is crushed to death by a tree during a tornado. Her father was the one who held together her mother during her bouts of deep depression; worked on a Memory Wall at the local home for dementia patients; and gave Circa a Shopt folder, a collection of silly photoshopped photos and accompanying stories. Soon after the fatal accident, the 12-year-old and her mother discover a teenage boy on their doorstep, covered with scars and holding the last picture her father worked on. He has no memory of any life before the storm, and they name him Miles. With a focus on finding out who this boy is and where he came from, her mother starts facing her anxiety and depression. Slowly, mother and daughter begin to heal with the addition of Miles in their lives. Though the premise of this book is unique, the chapters on Circa's life before the storm makes for a slow start. The inclusion of the photoshopped pictures throughout the text is clever and adds to the juxtaposition throughout the text of grief, sadness, and desperation, mixed with the laughter and happiness Circa feels about her new situation. Yet the characters seem distant instead of emotionally raw. An unusual story for a limited readership. Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA—SLJ

Circa, 11, and her father have nearly always engaged in a clever game they call Shopt. Since his job is restoring old photos using Photoshop, the game is a natural. He inserts unexpected objects into conventional images and then crafts funny stories to explain the bizarre photos-which, happily, are enticingly sprinkled throughout the novel. After he dies in a tragic accident, Circa's mother, who has been depressed for many years, has trouble coping-and Circa begins to encounter little clues that the Shopt images may contain a bit of magic. Do the pasted-in objects actually take on an existence of their own, and can that explain the sudden appearance at their doorstep of a young teen boy named Miles, who has no memory but a highly coincidental connection to her father's death? Or maybe Circa's just imagining the possibilities as she navigates the minefield of her own grief. She only gradually reveals her suspicions to Miles and her best friend, Nattie, who are just as tantalized as readers will be by the "fresh, sticky web of wonder" that accompanies the very chance of such magic. Sadly, it becomes clear that at least most of the coincidences can be explained by mundane reality, although there remains an alluring whiff of enchantment. Just a tinge of fantasy pervades this captivating tale of grief and acceptance and of the power of imagination. (Magical realism. 10-14)—Kirkus

Photography runs in 11-year-old Circa Monroe's family: her mother shoots portraits for a living, and her father is an expert at photo restoration. As a fun aside, he also creates "Shopt" images, Photoshopping unusual additions into pictures he's restoring, such as adding a baby, an oversize potato, and a bugle-playing beaver to an old photo of a family reunion. Circa is devastated when her father is killed in a deadly tornado strike, but a few weeks later, an amnesiac boy named Miles arrives on Circa's doorstep with a copy of her father's restored family reunion photo in his hand. Could Circa's father's Shopt images be magic, somehow able to make a Photoshopped baby become a real boy? Turner (Sway) offers a moving exploration of grief and an honest depiction of friends and family facing the hardest of times. Examples of Circa's father's altered images appear throughout the novel, with narrative captions that give the story a slight Miss Peregrine meets Harris Burdick atmosphere and add to its sense of mystery and possibility. Ages 8 12.—PW

When her father is killed by a tornado while delivering an old photo he's restored, Circa is devastated. But Circa's father taught her to restore old photos herself-as well as to "shop" them by putting comical digital twists in them-and Circa takes comfort in continuing his work. Then Miles shows up on her doorstep, a boy who can't remember anything about who he is or where he's from. His only clue is the photograph he's holding, which is the very one Circa's father was delivering when he died. As Circa and her mother care for Miles they uncover a strange series of coincidences, and Circa begins to think the digital changes she and her father made to photographs have come to exist in real life. Does this mean she can bring her father back? Turner's story is an intricate weave of grief and healing, friendship, trauma, and wishful desire; gentle quirkiness and light humor soften the dire issues of Circa's father's death and her mother's anxiety disorder. Indeed, the book might have benefitted from a sharper, tighter prose style, but it has an intelligent, compassionate originality that gleams throughout. deirdre f. baker—Horn Book

Tragedy strikes the close-knit Monroe family when twelve-year-old Circa's beloved father dies in a car wreck. Since he was driving to deliver retouched photos at the time, Circa's mother avoids the part of the family's photography studio where Circa and her father had freshened clients' old photos, as well as added to their own "Shopt" file-a family treasury of images with unexpected elements inserted using Photoshop, complete with amusing captions. Circa's grief at her father's passing and her frustration with her depressed, slightly agoraphobic mother is tempered somewhat by the arrival of Miles, a teenage boy suffering from amnesia who has only a photo bearing the Studio Monroe stamp. Circa soon realizes there is a connection between her dad and Miles; not only is there a family resemblance, but Miles would be the same age as the baby her father "Shopt" into a photo. With a growing belief in the power of these pictures, Circa sets out to see if she can use her own talent for altering images to reshape reality in this novel that imbues a family tragedy and grieving process with elements of magical realism. Much like the storyline, Circa is accessible and inoffensive, if a trifle unbelievable; Turner occasionally disrupts the story's momentum by telling rather than showing, and while the insertion of photos from the "Shopt" file provides context, these greeting card-esque visuals jar rather than supplement. Still, the tenderness, imagination and hope underpinning the story, as well as the ultimate message of finding good in the bad, will have readers turning the pages to see how Circa might shape her present even if she can't change the past. AA—BCCB

"Cass' strong, complex emotions resonate throughout the story, and the moments of tenderness ring true. A promising first novel."—Booklist Online

"...by the end, Cass will have worked her quirky way into readers' hearts."—School Library Journal

Praise for Sway:
"...fascinating and utterly credible...A linguistically playful heart-wrencher about healing, love, forgiveness and the power of believing in something good, whether it's old soap or your own family."—Kirkus

SWAY was selected a Starbucks/iBookstore Pick of the Week.
Starbucks/iBookstore

"This title, a first by the author and a recommended purchase, is filled with believable characters, inventive words, humor and sadness."—Children's Literature

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura A. Jackson on June 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I heard such great things about this book that I was a little surprised that I didn't love it from the get-go. Instead, it slowly grew on me.
Circa is a likeable character. I loved her relationship with her dad, and maybe my reluctance to love the book from the beginning may have been because I was so sad for her.
Miles is a great character, and I loved the friendship between him and Circa, especially the healing they brought each other.

This is a beautiful tale of love, loss, and friendship. I'm eager to put it in my school library and see what the kids think.

I was given this book in exchange for my review, but my thoughts are my own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David A. Koren on September 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Toni-Ann Koren

I applaud Amber McRee Turner for writing this book! Circa Now is the ultimate story of "paying it forward. " Circa recent past is not filled with many happy thoughts and her present is a bit of a struggle too. But, she is not alone. Their are others who feel lost...very lost! Together these characters discover a person's "purpose here on earth" A purpose that requires a journey through the eyes of a 12 year old name Circa and her "Shopt" magical beliefs. This book is a journey that will touch your heart; old and young alike!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Circa's dad includes her as he Photoshops photos sent in for the Memory Wall at the local residents hall. He especially loves to insert unusual items for their special Shopt folder and makes up funny stories to go along with them. After a tragic accident, Circa must convince her mom to continue her dad's project and pick up the pieces to make her family whole again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Greg Armamentos on June 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I read this book, a cherished memory from my past danced within. It was of my teenage self, meandering thru the Art Institute of Chicago, pausing in front of paintings and sculptures to soak in their ingenuity. I'd switch back and forth between the beautiful stories told by each piece, to the brilliance of the individual, minute brush strokes. I would return to the Art Institute numerous times, enamored by the indescribable talent of the creators.
As I walked along side the story of Circa and Miles, I continually paused, in no hurry to finish the tale, but instead to savor the ingenuity of the plot twists, and the beauty of exquisitely crafted sentences. This was a delightful tale of family, of courage, and of thens and nows.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dolores, a teacher on June 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
There were so many things going on in this story: dealing with grief, keeping secrets, caring for the elderly, depression, lost souls, and hints of magic. And they were all woven together so beautifully into one big ball of emotion, which is exactly what one would expect after a tornado has come through and devastated a community.

Circa's good-natured quirkiness turned what could've been a heartbreaking story into a heartwarming one. I really hated to close this book because I wasn't ready to say good-bye to Circa, her friends, and her family.
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