by Gwenda Bond
Series: Girl on a Wire #1
Published on October 1, 2014 by Skyscape
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.
Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.
As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.
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Romeo & Juliet goes to the big top in this mystical story of a wire-walker, trapeze artist, and the feud between their families. Who doesn’t like a little forbidden romance at the circus?
Julieta “Jules” Maroni, determined to get her family back in the limelight, forces her father’s hand so that they agree to join the Cirque American, home of the Amazing Garcias.
Their mortal enemies.
And of course, one of the Garcia children is named Romeo (but he prefers Remy). How convenient.
Clearly a romance is in order. Now the addition is the families’ dark history together. There’s magic involved in a world where magic shouldn’t exist (i.e. our world). This mystery took the story by storm, becoming the main plot against a big top backdrop. I really enjoyed how Bond wrote out this feud, feeding bit by bit to the reader as Jules and Remy uncovered it for themselves. And as we learn, all magic comes at a cost.
That was what really interested me about Girl on a Wire. Prior to reading it, I noted that other readers had shelved it as a fantasy. And it’s about a circus. Obviously I had to read it. But I went in with low expectations, waiting for the cliches to jump off the page. The hated tropes. And after seeing the R+J bit I hoped it also didn’t go down the love triangle route like most young adult novels nowadays. I was happy to see it didn’t! But back to the fantasy part. Because when you read this, there really isn’t that element of traditional magic you’d expect. It’s much more…elegant. Subtle. Something like a magician’s trick. You don’t really know if it’s real or not, but there’s a part of you that wants to believe. I think it’s a fitting comparison as Jules herself struggles to believe in the magic her Nan claims is so real and dangerous.
Alright, so I’ve mentioned the romance a couple times now and while it didn’t take center ring, it certainly held the audience’s attention (a.k.a. me). There was none of that insta-love garbage. No love triangle with the boys battling it out for the girl. Just a simple attraction — forbidden, but nonetheless there — that melted into a teen love. Thank goodness Girl on a Wire didn’t share the same ending as R+J or I might’ve cried.
Jules was a strong protagonist and didn’t let this romance take over. Remy was someone she learned to trust and who supported her investigation into their families’ feud, but her real strength came from the wire. I loved how her character shifted from awkward teen to fearless performer as soon as she stepped out into the air. And she had her setbacks. Her questionable decisions. Her learning experiences that made her grow. In short, I thought she was the perfect protagonist for this story.
Her co-partner Remy shared similar characteristics in terms of the technical side. He had his shortcomings and his strengths, and Jules wasn’t his world but he brightened when she was there. It was sweet how the two of them fed off each other’s weaknesses and used that energy to make the other person better.
My only real issue with this novel was the ending. The entire book, Bond led up to this dastardly person who kept trying to bring up the past and cause harm. In the end, the villain breaks down and gave away their entire plan. I was waiting for the “and I would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids” (as many reviewers were too).
But ending aside, this book fed my circus-fiction addiction and proved to go above and beyond anything I could have wanted for a Romeo & Juliet circus book. Looking forward to the sequel, Girl in the Shadows!