by Cassie Beasley
First sentence: “Four small words.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy provided by the publisher. (Plus: popcorn!)
Release date: June 2, 2014
Content: It’s kind of slow, and definitely heavy on the exposition, which may make more reluctant readers, well, reluctant to give it a try. But I’m assuming there will be gorgeous art throughout (I haven’t seen it yet), and so there’s that to give it a boost with those who like pictures with their books. It’ll be in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.
Micah has been raised by his grandfather since his parents died when he was young. He’s had a good life; his grandfather is one of those Good people who know how to be happy. He was also a storyteller, raising Micah on stories of the grand Circus Mirandus and the Lightbender, who promised Micah’s grandfather a miracle. Now, when grandfather’s health is failing, he calls in the Lightbender’s miracle. But getting that isn’t as easy as all that. And it’s up to Micah (and his friend Jenny Mendoza) to help grandfather get the miracle he deserves.
I am not a critical reader. I fall head first into stories, and they either work for me or they don’t. I don’t stop to think much about a deeper meaning, or issues, or (sadly) stereotypes and cliches. I like characters (or not), I like the plot (or not), I like the writing (or not). And so, I find myself loving books and not having a real “reason” for it.
This is one of those books. I loved it. Wholly and unabashedly. I fell into the magic and the suspension of disbelief. I understood the magic and the story that Beasley was trying to tell. I cried at the end. I am not sure I’ve felt this in love with a book since I read the first Penderwicks. This book? This book is my people.
I loved it. I loved the Big Fish-esque feel of the story. I loved Micah and his grandpa’s relationship. I loved the flashbacks to grandpa’s time with the circus. Yeah, so some of the characters — Aunt Gertrudis, especially — were pretty much caricatures, but so is Trunchbull in Matilda, and no one complains about that. I loved that Jenny was smart, and that they were just friends and that she wasn’t a romantic interest. I loved her skepticism, and her belief in her friend (if not in the magic). I loved the whimsy of the book. But most of all, I loved the heart of it. It has such a big heart.
I’m sure there are drawbacks, and people who this book won’t speak to. But, for me, this was a little slice of perfection.