Saturday, September 7, 2019

Book Review: Trapeze by Leigh Ansell

I'd never read a crowd-sourced book before, and I wasn't sure how it would be. This book is being published by Wattpad, the app where writers can upload manuscript and readers can read, comment, and review them. Wattpad has decided to publish in print the books that are the cream of the crop. I think it's great that for their first list, all of the books are Young Adult. As much as editors try desperately to keep their thumb on the pulse of the zeitgeist, teens also want desperately to keep adults out. Not to mention, the trends and needs just change so darn fast. I think YA books in particular can really benefit from the readers telling us publishers what they want to read, instead of the other way around.

This book took several twists I wasn't expecting. It starts out with Corey doing her usual pre-show routine in a new town: heading to the closest restaurant for dinner. if the food is good, the show goes well. The show meaning, the circus, where she's in the trapeze act. Until Sherwood, California. She meets a cute boy at the restaurant, he highly recommends the fries and he's right--they're amazing. and things seem to be heading towards amazing with the lead trapeze artist promoting Corey into the lead position for the first time, but in the middle of their act, the worst thing happens: fire.

Stop reading now if you don't want some minor spoilers. But I do need to tell you a little more to really explain the book. Because at this point, I was thinking the book was Water for Elephants meets The Circus Fire for teens, but it completely stops being about the circus or the fire at this point. Corey's aunt, who owns the circus, has been raising her since Corey's own mom, who was a teen when she had Corey, was a hot mess when she was a baby. Turns out her mom lives in Sherwood and has gotten her act together. While the investigation happens and various people are hospitalized and the circus itself doesn't have the funds to repair, let alone move on, they're stuck here for now. And it's best for Corey to go live with the mom she's never known. So she'll be attending the local high school (with the cute guy who likes French fries) and she SO doesn't want anyone to know she's from the circus, although her spotty education up to this point might out her. Turns out the cute boy is in her Precal class and is great at math and can tutor her.

At this point I was expecting just a traditional teen romance, but things took yet another turn or two! There's a lot more meat on the bone of this book than I had expected, and I really appreciated that. I do wish Corey had checked in more with the circus and her friends and family there, as it felt very cut off from the beginning of the book and like she didn't care about the circus, but I'm choosing to interpret that as simply her being too overwhelmed by her circumstances, and the natural self-centeredness of teens developmentally. It does circle back around at the end. The book is melodramatic in all the best ways for teens, pretty darn clean in terms of sex (but there is excessive drinking and some violence), and certainly unique in storyline and background. I think teens will eat it up. And that cover is just gorgeous!

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Wattpad, which is distributed by Macmillan, my employer.

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