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Willow has everything: a rich daddy, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. Everything except the one thing she really wants—a father who cares enough to find her when she runs away from home. On the eve of her father’s wedding, Willow runs again into the unknown. Her mother was a circus performer and Willow longs to follow in her footsteps. But when all of he Willow has everything: a rich daddy, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. Everything except the one thing she really wants—a father who cares enough to find her when she runs away from home. On the eve of her father’s wedding, Willow runs again into the unknown. Her mother was a circus performer and Willow longs to follow in her footsteps. But when all of her money is stolen and her only friend, a street performer called Suz, betrays her, Willow is left penniless and alone. So begins a journey. Will Willow ever make it to the big top and find a place she can truly call home?


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Willow has everything: a rich daddy, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. Everything except the one thing she really wants—a father who cares enough to find her when she runs away from home. On the eve of her father’s wedding, Willow runs again into the unknown. Her mother was a circus performer and Willow longs to follow in her footsteps. But when all of he Willow has everything: a rich daddy, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. Everything except the one thing she really wants—a father who cares enough to find her when she runs away from home. On the eve of her father’s wedding, Willow runs again into the unknown. Her mother was a circus performer and Willow longs to follow in her footsteps. But when all of her money is stolen and her only friend, a street performer called Suz, betrays her, Willow is left penniless and alone. So begins a journey. Will Willow ever make it to the big top and find a place she can truly call home?

30 review for The Circus

  1. 5 out of 5

    Always Pouting

    Willow has run away from home before but this time she's determined not to be found. On the day of her fathers wedding to the Handbag she cuts the buttons off of the Handbag's wedding dress and sneaks out through the window to get away. Willow doesn't remember much about her mother but she has one picture of her and knows she was part of the circus. So with no solid plan she heads out and eventually tries out for the circus to follow in her mothers foot steps. Meanwhile her father is frantically Willow has run away from home before but this time she's determined not to be found. On the day of her fathers wedding to the Handbag she cuts the buttons off of the Handbag's wedding dress and sneaks out through the window to get away. Willow doesn't remember much about her mother but she has one picture of her and knows she was part of the circus. So with no solid plan she heads out and eventually tries out for the circus to follow in her mothers foot steps. Meanwhile her father is frantically searching for her. I didn't enjoy anything about this book honestly. I didn't like the writing, it was choppy with vague sentences and was sparse enough that I didn't really care about anything happening in the book. I wasn't sympathetic towards the characters except maybe her new stepmother and father. The transitions felt abrupt and the scenes that took place in the past didn't tie in neatly with what was happening in the present. Also Willow ran away for no reason at all honestly, especially after (view spoiler)[ her dad finds her and tells her about her mother and that she might not be his daughter (hide spoiler)] if anything that's a good demonstration of his love for her. She's upset because she has trouble making friends and because sometimes her dad has to work and can't just drop everything to see her. It felt pretty selfish actually to demand your fathers attention non stop that way. He's a person too, he probably gets lonely so what if he sleeps with or flirts with women. Also she's upset about Beanie making fun of her a few times but (view spoiler)[ calls her and asks her for money and a phone and stuff (hide spoiler)] , friends tease each other. Willow just makes everything about herself and behaves like other people are hostile when they literally did nothing wrong. Also how does she keep managing to find Suz again and again. Her realization at the end didn't feel meaningful either and it just came out of left field, growth tends to be gradual but here Willow is suddenly just getting it out of no where. This book really wasn't for me, maybe I've just out grown the whole angst thing so I can't relate anymore.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Iryna *Book and Sword*

    For more reviews please visit my book journal I will start out by saying that this book was not at all what I thought it would be. For some reason I imagined this book to be a fantasy set somewhere in 1900 hundreds, about a runaway who joined a circus. And while in a sense, it is a story about a runaway and a circus (however little of the actual circus was in it), I did not at all anticipated it to be a contemporary. After the initial shock of finding out that the story is very modern wore out I For more reviews please visit my book journal I will start out by saying that this book was not at all what I thought it would be. For some reason I imagined this book to be a fantasy set somewhere in 1900 hundreds, about a runaway who joined a circus. And while in a sense, it is a story about a runaway and a circus (however little of the actual circus was in it), I did not at all anticipated it to be a contemporary. After the initial shock of finding out that the story is very modern wore out I started to really get into the story, and soon was not able to put it down. Also wanted to mention that the provided synopsis of this book reveals a lot, way more than it should (it literally spoils the whole book, so don’t read it). 7/7/17 UPDATE - the synopsis has been changed and now it shows the premise of the story much, much better The main character, Willow, runs away from home, and the events that follow after are quite ridiculous, but also heartfelt and raw. I could not peel my eyes off the pages, I just had to follow her journey all the way trough. What I loved the most was that there was never a “magic” solution, or an easy fix, or a miracle for any of her problems. She kept getting knocked down by life in the most brutal and impossible ways, and she kept getting back up and making it through – and then getting knocked down again. Sure some of the scenarios were completely unbelievable and ridiculous, but I think that it goes well with the name of the book. I see The circus as a metaphor for life itself. And to think – that she was running away from things that most people would be running towards: money, friends, and stability. There was one exceptionally juicy plot twist, and I enjoy plot twists a lot. Especially when I don’t see them coming. The Circus definitely touched many important and painful subjects, shedding light into dirty corners of our society. While the story was gripping and hard-to-put-down, the writing was a little choppy, and confusing at times. The long chapters were divided into smaller sub-chapters, and all of them had titles (most of the titles were very cryptic and didn’t help with the general confusion). And the worst part was that there was almost no differentiation between the things that were currently happening and the flashbacks that she was having. 7/7/17 UPDATE - this was my review of an ARC of the book, so it might have been changed and cleaned up since. Since the synopsis mentions Suz, a girl who the main character meets, and befriends, I will mention her too. At first I had a lot of trouble trying to justify their friendship, I can see that it was born out of the desperation and loneliness, (view spoiler)[but after Suz stole from her (hide spoiler)] , I had trouble seeing why Willow stuck around. But overall I think that Suz brought a lot of color and character to the book. Now that the book is out I wanted to add some of my speculations about Willow. And I would love to see if anybody else agrees with me on this. For the good 30 percent of the book I thought that Willow (view spoiler)[ might have been autistic, or at least very mentally underdeveloped and stunted. I am not sure if this was intended, but if it was I thought that it was a very, very nice touch to have such a diverse character. (hide spoiler)] I drew such conclusions from the way she was acting way too childish for her age, from her naivety and the way her friends and her dad treated her. Now that I am updating my review I feel like I would definitely want to re-read The Circus in the future, as this story had stayed with me for the longest time. 7/7/17 ​ I would like to thank LibraryThing and Rock the Boat Publishing for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book. I truly feel honored to be one of the first readers of this gripping adventure of a book. The Circus took me by surprise in the beginning (don't judge the book by its cover, right?), but managed to keep me completely engaged all the way through. My WEBSITE My INSTAGRAM My WORDPRESS BLOG

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen Barber

    Willow is a girl who's used to getting what she wants. A rich father, wealthy background and boarding school. Yet she suffers with anxiety and is desperate to find her absent mother. On the day of her father's wedding Willow runs away. This time (having made this quite a regular thing) Willow gets to Hastings. She encounters some strange people, and ends up learning to perform in a circus. Naturally things aren't quite what we think and Willow comes to realise she was looking for something else. Willow is a girl who's used to getting what she wants. A rich father, wealthy background and boarding school. Yet she suffers with anxiety and is desperate to find her absent mother. On the day of her father's wedding Willow runs away. This time (having made this quite a regular thing) Willow gets to Hastings. She encounters some strange people, and ends up learning to perform in a circus. Naturally things aren't quite what we think and Willow comes to realise she was looking for something else. This was an odd read. I didn't particularly like Willow. Her self-obsessed nature was irritating, and I really can't imagine some of these events happening. There were a few touching moments, but not enough to really sustain my interest. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in advance of publication.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I received a free review copy of this from Goodreads. Like some of the other reviewers when I had initially read the description I had thought the book was based in Victorian times so was initially surprised that it has a contemporary setting. I liked the pace and feel of this book and the way the main character Willow changes and develops as the story moves forward. Although aimed primarily at young adults I still enjoyed it as it was so well written and descriptive. i would recommend this book to I received a free review copy of this from Goodreads. Like some of the other reviewers when I had initially read the description I had thought the book was based in Victorian times so was initially surprised that it has a contemporary setting. I liked the pace and feel of this book and the way the main character Willow changes and develops as the story moves forward. Although aimed primarily at young adults I still enjoyed it as it was so well written and descriptive. i would recommend this book to others.

  5. 4 out of 5

    M F

    There was a lot to like about this, but I have to admit I didn't find Willow a hugely sympathetic protagonist. She runs away from enormous privilege because of jealousy and feeling neglected, and while I could sympathise with her need for affection, it was hard to feel for her when she was missing the kind of lifestyle the vast majority of people never even glimpse -- her pony and her housekeeper and her boarding school and all of that. The most engaging part of the book was the part that actual There was a lot to like about this, but I have to admit I didn't find Willow a hugely sympathetic protagonist. She runs away from enormous privilege because of jealousy and feeling neglected, and while I could sympathise with her need for affection, it was hard to feel for her when she was missing the kind of lifestyle the vast majority of people never even glimpse -- her pony and her housekeeper and her boarding school and all of that. The most engaging part of the book was the part that actually took place in a circus, but it wasn't a big enough part of the story to really satisfy me: there was a lot of build-up, but it wasn't given a lot of time. (I've been spoiled, I think, by books like "Pantomime" by Laura Lam where it dominates the story.) Full review to follow at some point when I have the brainpower to think of things to say.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elisa The-Bookie-Monster

    3/5 Thank you NetGalley for the e-arc! It's not the best book I've ever read, but it was interesting. Circus is about a teenage girl on the run from her life. Willow has never known her mom, only a story about her being in the circus. She hates her soon to be stepmother, so much so that it triggers her to act out on the day of their wedding and runs away to join the circus to be like her mom. Running away wasn't as easy as Willow thought it would be, however. She encounters everything from scam a 3/5 Thank you NetGalley for the e-arc! It's not the best book I've ever read, but it was interesting. Circus is about a teenage girl on the run from her life. Willow has never known her mom, only a story about her being in the circus. She hates her soon to be stepmother, so much so that it triggers her to act out on the day of their wedding and runs away to join the circus to be like her mom. Running away wasn't as easy as Willow thought it would be, however. She encounters everything from scam artists, and creepy dudes looking to prey on her. Despite all that, she does manage to make a friend, Suz. I hated Suz's character I thought she was annoying.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I received a copy from Net Galley. This story follows a teenage girl who runs away from home to join the circus. Willow comes from a wealthy home and she is unhappy that her dad is marrying a new woman so she decides to run away and become a circus performer like her mum. She quickly realises that life on the street is hard work but whilst on the street, she does befriend a girl called Suz. I didn't really like Willow as a character as she is very spoilt and didn't really seem to have a good rea I received a copy from Net Galley. This story follows a teenage girl who runs away from home to join the circus. Willow comes from a wealthy home and she is unhappy that her dad is marrying a new woman so she decides to run away and become a circus performer like her mum. She quickly realises that life on the street is hard work but whilst on the street, she does befriend a girl called Suz. I didn't really like Willow as a character as she is very spoilt and didn't really seem to have a good reason for running away. Also, Willow discovers that things that she believed weren't necessarily true. I feel like the title of this book is a bit misleading as only a very small portion of this story takes part in the circus the main focus of the story is Willow running away rather than her time at the circus. Overall this was an ok read but it didn't amaze me. I was hoping for more of the story to be set at the circus. Also, a found Willow to be quite annoying as she honestly didn't really have a good reason for running away.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex Peachman

    I loved the way this book was written in short chunks, and some of the characters were great. I found the ending a bit disappointing and unconvincing, but still and interesting and unusual read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    The last 1/3 was better than pretty much the rest of it. Not as strong or powerful as The Island, and those hoping for a circus book should be prepared for Very Little Circus.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mel Stephenson

    I loved this book from start to finish. I thought it would be more set in the circus, but it didn't matter as what followed was a story with heart and heartache—about friendship, loneliness and wanting to be loved. Willow was a thoroughly likeable character running away from a life, which on the outside seems perfect with all the trappings of wealth, but beneath it is empty and hollow. She craves what everyone wants—to belong and be wanted and needed. Olivia Levez's writing is sharp and bold, th I loved this book from start to finish. I thought it would be more set in the circus, but it didn't matter as what followed was a story with heart and heartache—about friendship, loneliness and wanting to be loved. Willow was a thoroughly likeable character running away from a life, which on the outside seems perfect with all the trappings of wealth, but beneath it is empty and hollow. She craves what everyone wants—to belong and be wanted and needed. Olivia Levez's writing is sharp and bold, the voice strong, and her observations bring to life fully developed characters from their different and colourful backgrounds. A gem of a story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 2.5* This really wasn't what I was expecting. The title is misleading to me. I thought there was going to be more about the circus in this, nope. The only person I liked was Suz, the main character Willow I didn't feel any connection or sympathy for her. Throughout this it was all so slow and kind of put me in a slump. 2.5* This really wasn't what I was expecting. The title is misleading to me. I thought there was going to be more about the circus in this, nope. The only person I liked was Suz, the main character Willow I didn't feel any connection or sympathy for her. Throughout this it was all so slow and kind of put me in a slump.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richa

    Excellent read! It was a little hard to follow at the start, I'll admit, but once I got into the book, it was impossible to stop! Excellent read! It was a little hard to follow at the start, I'll admit, but once I got into the book, it was impossible to stop!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    2.5 meh. A bit messy. I just didn't quite get it 2.5 meh. A bit messy. I just didn't quite get it

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christina Reid

    Silviya turns around and her eyes are tender and heavy. She is stripped bare of make-up, her face shiny with cream. 'Come closer, little bird', she says. 'I am going to tell you a story.' Behind her the mirror shimmers with a thousand costumes, a thousand dreams. This took me a while to get into, but I very much enjoyed it, especially after we actually reach the circus, which is fairly late on in the story.In this sense, the title is probably slightly misleading as so little of the story actually Silviya turns around and her eyes are tender and heavy. She is stripped bare of make-up, her face shiny with cream. 'Come closer, little bird', she says. 'I am going to tell you a story.' Behind her the mirror shimmers with a thousand costumes, a thousand dreams. This took me a while to get into, but I very much enjoyed it, especially after we actually reach the circus, which is fairly late on in the story.In this sense, the title is probably slightly misleading as so little of the story actually takes place in a circus, but the parts that do really are magical. Unfortunately, our main character, Willow, goes through a lot of the nasty real-world on her way to becoming a circus performer. This part of the book painted a bleak, though probably realistic, view of being a girl hitch-hiking and sleeping on the streets. At times though, I did begin to wonder why she met so few nice people. In fact, almost everyone seemed to be out to rip her off, harass her, etc. As some other reviewers have mentioned, one note that struck slightly false throughout the book is that Willow repeatedly tries to run away, yet the main cause of this, the ‘evil’ stepmother, turns out to not be so bad after all…so much so that a single letter from her is enough to change the protagonist’s point of view completely. Willow herself is a flawed, realistic character but it can be hard to sympathise with her when she has a lot of opportunities and, in comparison with others she meets on the streets, has had a relatively easy life. I enjoyed the use of layout, particularly during scenes in the circus, which were almost poetic and provided a stark contrast with the grittiness of real-life. I have hardly swung away from her when she shouts, 'Hands Off!' and I let go like a flying angel, like a bird spreading its wings, like a child running downhill. Kit laughs and takes pictures on his phone but I m hardly aware of it because oh my God, I'm flying I'm flying I'm flying and the world is just one huge rush before 'There you go, that's perfect. Now the bar. Legs out. Legs up a little bit. And drop!' And I fall, into the safety net, legs out and bouncing hugely, and Ican'tspeakIcan'tspeak for laughing. What I liked: The scenes in the circus and the language used to describe them, the contrast between real-life and the fantasy Even better if: There were more scenes in the circus - I was hoping for more based on the title of the book. Willow's problems with her stepmother, her father and their resolution had been explored more fully. How you could use it in your classroom: It would be an interesting read for secondary school pupils, though not suitable for primary school pupils. I think it could be used to spark a debate about the tug-of-war between wanting to be independent and finding your individuality and the role of parents as protectors and, sometimes, obstacles to this. The scenes of life on the streets and hitchhiking provide a counterpoint to the magic of the circus. This, along with Willow's search for a place where she fits in this mad world, would also provide ample opportunities for discussion. (Thank you to Netgalley and Rock the Boat Publishing for my free review copy)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mallory Kellogg

    This was a quick read, and well paced.   But. But...   The whole premise of the book is pretty absurd. Let me break it down. First, this girl runs away to join the circus in 2016. Most circuses by that point had gone belly-up, but this girl seems to just stumble over more than one in a tiny UK coastal town. Very unlikely.    And that leads us to Willow, our main character. She is flawed, but not in a relatable way. She has a rich daddy who owns her off on others and can't be bothered to take care of h This was a quick read, and well paced.   But. But...   The whole premise of the book is pretty absurd. Let me break it down. First, this girl runs away to join the circus in 2016. Most circuses by that point had gone belly-up, but this girl seems to just stumble over more than one in a tiny UK coastal town. Very unlikely.    And that leads us to Willow, our main character. She is flawed, but not in a relatable way. She has a rich daddy who owns her off on others and can't be bothered to take care of her because "she looks too much like her", his ex and mother of Willow. So Willow spends the whole book as a runaway, while recounting other escape attempts. Some seemed understandable while most seemed straight up spoiled brat moves. And that's where being flawed too much comes into play. How can I feel sympathy for a character when she is clearly in the wrong? The book opens with her ruining her step-mother's wedding dress. And by the end of the book, we still don't have an excuse for why she did it and why she hates her stepmom. Because she's young? Pregnant? We are never given a good reason, so most of Willow's behavior comes off as ridiculous and petty.    And I would like to note that for a girl so "prepared" for this runaway episode, she didn't know squat about street life. She had a list of rules to follow but not one said anything about going anywhere with strangers. She kept putting herself in incredibly dangerous situations because she was too stupid to think "hey, maybe I shouldn't tease the creepy smelly ticket seller" or "don't go into a stranger's house".    In the end, we get closure with a neat bow on top, but seriously? Nobody learned a lesson. Daddy still admitted to not really loving Willow, but he cries big fat tears of joy when she returns home to him. And let's not forget there are 17 years of distant "throw money at it until it goes away" parenting and never really even remembering she exists. You never learn why Willow hates her stepmom. You never learn why any of this had to happen. She ran away so many times she had a detective on her case all day every day, and nobody once thought to send this poor girl to therapy?! Why does a 6/8/11 year old keep running away from boarding school/home? Nobody ever seems to suggest this child might need help.    All in all, don't bother. The whole thing is stupid. And if I'm going to be technical, as the book went along, the editing mistakes got worse and worse. Time passed strangely, like when Willow begins to train on the trapeze and gets broad shoulders right away. Sloppy continuity. So, I felt no sympathy for the main character, nobody learned anything, and everyone lives happily ever after. Gag me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eloise

    Before I started this book I didn’t read any other reviews or do any research… I often don’t. I like to be surprised and don’t want anyone elses opinions clouding my judgement. So when I started The Circus I imagined it to be a whimsical, magical tale set decades ago, possibly in Eastern Europe or Russia… kind of Night Circusey. I was very very wrong, as the description describes (the description is very informative, prehaps too much, so I wont go over what it says again), it is a coming of age c Before I started this book I didn’t read any other reviews or do any research… I often don’t. I like to be surprised and don’t want anyone elses opinions clouding my judgement. So when I started The Circus I imagined it to be a whimsical, magical tale set decades ago, possibly in Eastern Europe or Russia… kind of Night Circusey. I was very very wrong, as the description describes (the description is very informative, prehaps too much, so I wont go over what it says again), it is a coming of age contemporary about a 16-year-old runaway. This book gave me ALL the feels and took me on an unexpected emotional rollercoaster. Willow was a tricky and multi-sided character. The whole book is told from Willows perspective and so From very early on in the book you have to learn to translate what Willow is saying, as to what is the truth or what is her interpretation of things. *I have so much to say about Willow I am frantically typing and trying to organise my thoughts as quickly as possible!* Willow has a very young mind and I found her to be very fragile and naive. But I found myself feeling for her massively, I wouldn’t say that I liked her but I did care and desperately powered through the book to see what was going to happen. It is clear from the outset that there she does have a mental condition, this later turns out to be depression and anxiety, however I believe there is something more their, her view of the world is a little too off. Her dad is a jackass. And as a mother I found certain parts of this very hard to read. Essentially she is a little girl who just wants some attention from her dad, who has emotionally neglected and essentially forgotten about her for the whole of her life. With no mother Willow desperately wants a family, and her dads new bride, who she calls The Handbag, is getting in the way of her and her dads wonderful future. But is the Handbag that bad? is she what she seems? Willow and Suz have such a hard and bitter-sweet friendship, the most touching moments being towards the end of the book when they have a complete total role reversal. I found Willow’s whole journey from beginning to end so heartbreaking and yet heart warming. The writing was so easy and the story, although jumpy and erratic at times took me 2 evenings to read , I finished the book last night and still have no idea how I feel about it, so I am giving it 3 starts for now, but that will probably change, and the review added to as I gather my thoughts. You can check out the author… HERE Thank you NetGalley, Oneworld Publications and Olivia Levez

  17. 4 out of 5

    KatieBookQueen

    Reviewed at: http://www.queenofteenfiction.co.uk/ The Island was one of my favourite books of 2016, and was the story that made me fall utterly in love with the writing style of Olivia Levez. So it's safe to say that I was super excited to read her second book, The Circus. This story starts with teenager Willow running away from home on the day of her father's wedding to a much younger woman. We quickly learn that it's not the first time she's fled from her old life, but this time she gets further Reviewed at: http://www.queenofteenfiction.co.uk/ The Island was one of my favourite books of 2016, and was the story that made me fall utterly in love with the writing style of Olivia Levez. So it's safe to say that I was super excited to read her second book, The Circus. This story starts with teenager Willow running away from home on the day of her father's wedding to a much younger woman. We quickly learn that it's not the first time she's fled from her old life, but this time she gets further than she's ever done before. With only one picture of her mother, who left her as a child, dressed as a circus performer, she decides to follow in her mother's footsteps and join the circus. Willow makes it to Hastings and reinvents herself as Frog, a circus performer ready to start her new life, but things go from bad to worse for her. What I love about Olivia's characters is that they're always so real. There's nothing sugar-coated about the problems that they face and the world around them. They're not perfect, they're not always nice, but that's what makes them so believable. Frog's flaws make for a much more interesting story, and it made me root for her to get the things she wanted in life, even when she didn't fully realise what that was. Whilst trying to navigate the streets of Hastings alone, Frog ends up becoming friends with Suz, a homeless girl who starts to teach her how to perform fire ticks, despite the two of them not getting off to a great start. Their relationship was one of the most interesting aspects of this story for me because as a reader, I never knew where I stood. I didn't know what would become of them from one chapter to the next. Even though they needed each other to get by, there was a tension between them that could break at any time. The circus that we eventually get to see in the story was fascinating and I loved the mix of characters who were performers. I only wish we'd had more time with them and gotten to know more about their daily life at the circus. One thing that really stood out to me about this book was that as a reader, I never felt safe. Frog's life was so uncertain from chapter to chapter that I never knew how her day was going to end, and I appreciated that level of tension because it made for an exciting but nerve-wracking read. The ending was written beautifully and as with The Island, there are still things left for the reader to wonder about. The Circus was such a thrilling and raw read, and it's only made me even more excited for whatever Olivia Levez works on next!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Venessa

    I was given a free copy of this book by Edelweiss in exchange for a review. At first this story feels like a fairy tale. Our protagonist, a young girl of 16 called Willow, is running away from home on her father’s wedding day. Through a young girl’s eyes, she has been pushed aside for her father’s new bride and their impending new arrival in the form of her new baby half-sister. The reader is then taken on a journey by Willow into a life of an imagined circus life; all popcorn and glitter, that i I was given a free copy of this book by Edelweiss in exchange for a review. At first this story feels like a fairy tale. Our protagonist, a young girl of 16 called Willow, is running away from home on her father’s wedding day. Through a young girl’s eyes, she has been pushed aside for her father’s new bride and their impending new arrival in the form of her new baby half-sister. The reader is then taken on a journey by Willow into a life of an imagined circus life; all popcorn and glitter, that in reality is stealing, poverty, grime, hunger, misunderstandings, and danger. I really enjoyed the way that Olivia Levez contrasted both Willow’s and Suze’s dreams with their harsh reality. At no point is the reader deluded into thinking that this will have a happy ever after ending where Willow is reunited with her circus performer mother, because our author keeps the reader firmly grounded with Willow’s thoughts and emotions – panic, exhaustion, hunger and fright. I was reminded of another YA/juvenile book that switched between dreams and reality by Jacqueline Wilson called The Illustrated Mum. A very engaging tale, and although there is very little of a Circus in it, there is performance, glitter, fire and feathers – all the theatrics of Circus.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Josie Shinkfield

    *E-ARC PROVIDED BY NETGALLEY FOR MY HONEST REVIEW* Willow has run away from home many times before, but this time she definitely does not want to be found. Willow runs away on the day of her fathers wedding to a younger woman (whom Willow hates). Willow has her gap year savings to help her survive, however this is stolen by a homeless girl, Suz. Now Willow has no money, and when she has nowhere else to go, she ends up 'living' with Suz - and works towards her dream of joining the circus. Overall I *E-ARC PROVIDED BY NETGALLEY FOR MY HONEST REVIEW* Willow has run away from home many times before, but this time she definitely does not want to be found. Willow runs away on the day of her fathers wedding to a younger woman (whom Willow hates). Willow has her gap year savings to help her survive, however this is stolen by a homeless girl, Suz. Now Willow has no money, and when she has nowhere else to go, she ends up 'living' with Suz - and works towards her dream of joining the circus. Overall I found this book quite tedious to read. Willow was not a likeable character. She came across as spoilt and whiney - and though her strained relationship with her father was undewrstandable, I just couldn't connect with her reasons for running away. There was almost no character growth throughout the story, and right at the end, Willow had an abrupt change of heart. The side characters were two-dimensional, and the speed at which Willow learnt her circus tricks was not believable.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Woods

    Willow is a poor little rich girl. She has built up a fantasy about her Mother, who left them whilst Willow was small, and regularly runs away to find her dream. The problem is, apart from wanting her Father to notice her, Willow doesn't know exactly what that dream is. Willow needs help and none of the adults around her offer her what she needs. Topically, with mental health of young people being to the fore, this book will assure others that they are not alone. Willow is far from perfect. Neith Willow is a poor little rich girl. She has built up a fantasy about her Mother, who left them whilst Willow was small, and regularly runs away to find her dream. The problem is, apart from wanting her Father to notice her, Willow doesn't know exactly what that dream is. Willow needs help and none of the adults around her offer her what she needs. Topically, with mental health of young people being to the fore, this book will assure others that they are not alone. Willow is far from perfect. Neither is her friend Suz. But both girls are vulnerable and have many redeeming features. Although I began to think Willow's friend Beanie from school was fake, alongside so many other characters in Willow's life, when we meet her, she seems to be the one who helps Willow move on. This book has flashbacks and wild fantasies, so the reader soon learns to ask 'Is this really happening?' It's unpredictable, but that is the life Willow is now leading, and the reader suffers alongside of her. A book for young people to reflect their turbulent lives.

  21. 4 out of 5

    frez

    I agree with the reviews saying this wasn’t what they were expecting. Given the title of the book I thought it would be way more oriented around the circus which was barely featured in it at all. I absolutely loved Olivia Levez’s book ‘The Island’ and would consider it one of my all time favourite books, so when I found out about this book, I was desperate to give it a read. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations and I really wanted to love it but I just couldn’t. I’m not sure what e I agree with the reviews saying this wasn’t what they were expecting. Given the title of the book I thought it would be way more oriented around the circus which was barely featured in it at all. I absolutely loved Olivia Levez’s book ‘The Island’ and would consider it one of my all time favourite books, so when I found out about this book, I was desperate to give it a read. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations and I really wanted to love it but I just couldn’t. I’m not sure what exactly it was that I disliked about the book because there were many elements of it that I loved such as the friendship between Suz and Willow as well as the true representation of the harsh reality of living rough. However I personally found a lot of the story quite predictable and the bits that weren’t predictable didn’t really impact me the way it was probably intended to. One thing I do really enjoy about Levez’s books are the short chapters. I feel like even if the story gets quite dry, the short chapters keep me hooked and help me to read the book 10x quicker.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Very well written but not at all what I was expecting. I got this in a book box subscription and the author was new to me. It was much more poignant and serious than the lighthearted sounding blurb on the back cover led me to believe. I couldn't relate to the main character at all and I finished it more to see how things ended up rather than because I really enjoyed it. Without spoiling anything, it's about the main character searching for answers in her past in order to find and accept herself Very well written but not at all what I was expecting. I got this in a book box subscription and the author was new to me. It was much more poignant and serious than the lighthearted sounding blurb on the back cover led me to believe. I couldn't relate to the main character at all and I finished it more to see how things ended up rather than because I really enjoyed it. Without spoiling anything, it's about the main character searching for answers in her past in order to find and accept herself and all of the things that happen to her along the way. It ends well but for me it was not the best fit-probably because I had a set idea in my mind of what the book would be like and I wasn't really in the mood for the book it ended up being. So, not the book's fault at all if that makes sense. The author is very talented so if this interests you, you will most likely enjoy it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Willowthecat

    I enjoyed this book a lot - I actually read it all in one sitting. I liked the main character Willow, and I appreciated her character growth throughout the book. She definitely had a lot of growing up to do. The ending was both sad and fulfilling. It left me feeling like the book had been well wrapped up. However, the main reason I gave it a three star review was because quite a bit of it was confusing. The progression of events and how the characters ended up in the situations they were in was n I enjoyed this book a lot - I actually read it all in one sitting. I liked the main character Willow, and I appreciated her character growth throughout the book. She definitely had a lot of growing up to do. The ending was both sad and fulfilling. It left me feeling like the book had been well wrapped up. However, the main reason I gave it a three star review was because quite a bit of it was confusing. The progression of events and how the characters ended up in the situations they were in was not always clear. I was constantly having to go back and reread parts of the book to figure out what was going on. I do read fairly fast though, so it could have been on my end. Overall, a good read. Definitely recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    3.5/5 stars! This review was originally posted on my blog, Just A Few Chapters More! The Circus tells the story of Willow, a sixteen-year-old girl who runs away from what many people would think is a great life. She has a beautiful home, owns a prized horse, and goes to a great school. But Willow thinks her father doesn't really care about her and the fact that he's about to marry a woman half his age just seems to make things worse. So, Willow does the only thing she can think to do: she destroy 3.5/5 stars! This review was originally posted on my blog, Just A Few Chapters More! The Circus tells the story of Willow, a sixteen-year-old girl who runs away from what many people would think is a great life. She has a beautiful home, owns a prized horse, and goes to a great school. But Willow thinks her father doesn't really care about her and the fact that he's about to marry a woman half his age just seems to make things worse. So, Willow does the only thing she can think to do: she destroys her soon-to-be-stepmother's dress and runs away to join the circus. Honestly, for the majority of the story I didn't find Willow to be a hugely sympathetic protagonist. But, as Willow's dreams of becoming a glamorous circus performer clash with her new reality of the grit and grime of living on the streets, Willow's character develops in a way that left me feeling like she would do things differently the next time she was confronted with a problem. Her friendship with Suze definitely aids in her growth, and I'm happy that the author created at least one truly complex secondary character. The synopsis provides more than enough information about the book, so I don't feel like giving another summary of the story. But I will say this, the end of the book is a little too fairy tale-esque for me, but I know people love that kind of stuff, so I'm not too mad about it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Henderson

    I really enjoyed this story about an upset teenager who keeps running away from home because she doesn't feel loved by her father. She just wants to join the circus because her mother is in the circus although oddly enough she isn't actually searching for her mother. It was a really great read about friendships and the dark truth about what it means to be homeless, and it has a few darker themes in the novel. I really enjoyed this story about an upset teenager who keeps running away from home because she doesn't feel loved by her father. She just wants to join the circus because her mother is in the circus although oddly enough she isn't actually searching for her mother. It was a really great read about friendships and the dark truth about what it means to be homeless, and it has a few darker themes in the novel.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meg Gutteridge

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. loved the circus! the ending really shocked me as it wasn't what i expected from this book, based off the cover it seemed really happy n stuff... but i really liked the decrease in her sanity towards the end:oo i found parts of the book quite slow, but that might have just been my bad reading haha. good book! loved the circus! the ending really shocked me as it wasn't what i expected from this book, based off the cover it seemed really happy n stuff... but i really liked the decrease in her sanity towards the end:oo i found parts of the book quite slow, but that might have just been my bad reading haha. good book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Veeda

    This is a generally new book but there seemed to be a lot of errors in it. Despite that the writing was engaging and really nice. I liked the plot of the book a lot but the characters seemed very 2 dimensional. Im on edge on whether i would recommend it to people. The main character seemed whiny and very irrational.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Serenity

    I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book, but I loved "The Island" by Olivia so I was excited to read this one as well. Although I enjoyed "The Island" more, "The Circus" was a fun and interesting read. *Received an ARC I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book, but I loved "The Island" by Olivia so I was excited to read this one as well. Although I enjoyed "The Island" more, "The Circus" was a fun and interesting read. *Received an ARC

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth Kemp

    Loved this for its mix of characters, lovely writing and its combination of gritty realism on the streets and Willow's desperate drive to find her mother through the circus. YA readers who like a focus on friendship, drama and a healthy dose of realism will lap this up. Loved this for its mix of characters, lovely writing and its combination of gritty realism on the streets and Willow's desperate drive to find her mother through the circus. YA readers who like a focus on friendship, drama and a healthy dose of realism will lap this up.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    unlikeable main character, flat side characters, choppy writing and a plot that made me feel sympathy for, not willow, but her stepmother. i'm not upset that i read it, but it hasn't changed my life by any means. unlikeable main character, flat side characters, choppy writing and a plot that made me feel sympathy for, not willow, but her stepmother. i'm not upset that i read it, but it hasn't changed my life by any means.

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