I think that the fact that I grew up in a circus town has influenced my love for this book. I've had a fascination from a young age with the circus/carnival golden age in the US, and the public's obsession with the unusual and the exotic that fed this unique entertainment industry. Altebrando perfectly captures the nostalgia, wonder, and protectiveness that I feel towards the circus, but in this case she is writing about Coney Island, which was fun and enlightening for me.
Luna Jane (known as Jane) has spend most of her life moving around the world with her mother, father, and brother. Now, her mother has been gone for years after dying from cancer, her father is struggling to find work, and she and her brother Marcus have just inherited their recently-deceased grandfather's house in Coney Island. Plain Jane now finds herself wearing her "bird woman" grandmother's old clothes and attending school with 2 dwarves, a giant, a bearded lady, and one particularly intriguing tattooed boy. Over the course of the year, Jane struggles with decades-old family feuds and finding her place as a someone unique in a land of freaks, all the while trying to learn more about her mom and navigate an ongoing battle over Coney's future between a development company that might have a job for her Dad and Coney's protective residents.
What better for a summer read than a book set in an amusement park/beach community? I loved the characters, I loved Coney's history, I loved the complex relationships and the way Altebrando depicts the messy politics of redevelopment without making it black and white. Highly recommended, particularly for dreamy circus freaks or wannabes.
chelseasc thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over
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