Title: Harley in the Sky
Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publisher: Ink Road
Review Copy: ARC from publisher
Availability: Available now
Summary: Harley Milano has dreamed of being 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 soul that she could 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. But 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.
Review: Akemi Dawn Bowman is known for writing deep, heart wrenching novels and “Harley in the Sky” is actually a change of pace for her. While it is not fully a light, fluffy story (otherwise it wouldn’t be a novel) this is more a coming of age story of a young woman on the mark of adulthood who decides to take charge of her life and handles the consequences of a very adult decision. Harley was not an complete innocent naive flower at the beginning of the novel, she was ready to be her true self, but her parents were holding her back. She grapples with the decision to leave and I actually rooted for her to leave, because sometimes leaving home is what we need to grow.
What I loved best about Harley is that while she sometimes wasn’t completely honest with herself, she did know what she wanted for her life and was willing to take a risk to achieve it. Betraying her parents, while wasn’t the best decision, I could understand it as her decision didn’t lead her down a path that ruined her life, but gave her an opportunity to grow, to see if she could follow her dream, and ultimately make her own up to her mistakes. I feel like Harley’s story is one that needs to be told as well. We read many stories of teens coming of age through harsh trials, but many folks come of age through simple decisions that allow us to become adults. Harley learns to rely on herself while at the same time comes to appreciate the support systems she had at home. Many folks experience this type of “coming of age” and I really enjoyed “Harley in the Sky” for this reason.
There were also many fun moments of the story as Bowman really captures the magic of the circus and the romance is sweet as well. This was a great read and I recommend you order it from your local indie bookstore as soon as you can.