4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Depression-era Tale for Middle School Readers,
This review is from: Wonder Show (Hardcover)
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3 stars doesn't mean I hated it. On the contrary, I liked it, I just had some bumps along the road.
I usually pick fantasy reads, but circuses are a draw for me, so I was looking forward to this one. Portia escapes from a home for wayward girls with more than a few secrets of her own. She is looking for her father, and given events in her childhood, has dreamed that he ran away to join the circus. She ends up getting a job at Mosco's Wonder Show (a circus sideshow with a strongman, albino family, bearded lady, etc.) She knows she's living on borrowed time, however, since Mister, the ominous master of the home for wayward girls always finds the ones who run away.
I liked the sideshow aspect, showing a bit of the reality of the time and of living with a physical reminder that you are different from everyone else. There are several dark moments, but you also see how people can come together, adapt, and survive. I did like Portia, although she could be difficult and a bit of a hothead. I also liked the supporting characters. He isn't seen much in the story, but Mister comes across as quite villainous, enough that the persistent fear of being sent back was very real.
I've read books where you get multiple POVs (usually 3rd following 2 or more characters, although sometimes 1st following a few characters), or even when there is a jump from 1st to 3rd and back again. Sometimes it works out really well, but most of the time, this has a jarring effect that boots me out of the story for a bit. In this book, we have multiple POVs, from the main character, Portia, to a lot of the side characters. It also switches from 1st to 3rd many times for more than one character. The multiple POVs I could handle. Since the resident employees of the sideshow tend to keep their secrets close, it is a way to get to know them. However, the 1st to 3rd jumping combined with the multiple POVs was a bit much. I could ignore it after a while, but it did interrupt the flow for me.
Also, I just didn't get enough interaction between Portia and the Wonder Show folks to justify the ending. Maybe with a few more chapters I would have felt better about it. That part just went by too fast.
Still, if you have a reader who is tired of the paranormals and romances, this might be one to check out, especially if they have an interest in circuses and the Depression.