"The Circus of Stolen Dreams" by Lorelei Savaryn
A circus that allows you to escape your troubles...
So many people read for escapism, but Andrea isn’t running away from the usual middle school woes. Instead of having to worry about acne, mean girls, or crushes, she's dealing with her brother's disappearance and the effects it has on her family. It’s been 3 years and life hasn’t been the same. And to make things worse, her parents decide to get rid of all her brother's stuff.
She can’t take it. She finds herself wandering, and comes upon a mystical circus where the admission is just a memory.
It’s a pretty hefty setup for a middle grade story, but there is plenty to entertain young minds as well as older ones. As a parent, I always like to check out what’s going on in the genre, which is how I happened upon Lorelei Savaryn’s highly anticipated release. There is a lot to absorb here: dreams, nightmares, and the fear of not knowing what’s real or fiction anymore.
The Circus of Stolen Dreams holds plenty of allegory as well as surface level material to help shape budding youth for the better. It’s exceptionally well-written. The main character represents more than just young girls everywhere. Her connection to her brother and the people she meets along the way affords her the courage to take on perils she never would have been able to face on her own.
This is a great coming of age tale. It offers adventure, danger, insight, and horrors. Dark circus stories house countless unexplored storylines with a familiarity we all love.
Kids often deal with more than we give them credit for. No matter how sheltered or independent, the world is out there with all its joy and pain. Andrea’s struggle with the loss of her brother is a concept that truly speaks to the maturity in today’s youth.
As someone who experienced a lot of death from a young age, as well as other less childlike troubles, I was surprised to read something that didn’t shy away from this subject. The grieving process is openly displayed, as well as both healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms. This story approached dark themes and situations in a way that is appropriate for children.
It was easy to get through despite some of the drama, but if I were to criticize any aspect of the book, it would be that the tension becomes so constant—the pain such a continuous element—that I kept wishing for some comedy to offer balance.
High tension is a major trend in modern publishing. It works. It’s what keeps readers hooked, but a laugh now and then also makes a read more enjoyable, as we live and learn with the characters.
Without some laughs here and there, stories sometimes feel melodramatic. It’s why books like the Harry Potter series did so well. Sure A Wizard of Earthsea did it first, and the “chosen one” story has been done to death, but the comedic elements resulted in something much greater than the usual hero’s journey.
This being Lorelei Savaryn’s first book, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed in the future. She has written something to truly build a great career from.
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