Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day. After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.
I enjoyed Starfish a lot, and while I haven’t read Summer Bird Blue yet, I was really, really looking forward to Harley In The Sky! I’m lucky enough to be apart of the street team for the book, and Akemi was kind enough to provide an e-ARC for us to read! And wow, this book is very wow. Trigger warnings: depression, mood swings, heart attack, references to suicidal ideation
I don’t think I’ve ever been to the circus. It doesn’t quite seem like my thing; I feel like I would get overstimulated very easily. Despite this, I’ve discovered that I’m completely drawn to circus books. This one was no exception. It takes such a well known childhood concept, running away to join the circus, and makes it real. It’s such a simple concept, but this book takes it and makes it into something really magical.
Harley’s love for the circus is so potent. It’s felt throughout the book and it’s so incredibly strong. I’ve never been the circus and I started to love it with a passion. Harley makes it magical. She makes it special. Harley is such a big part of the reason this book is so incredibly good. She’s a messy character, with messy emotions. She has flaws and she makes mistakes. She’s human. She’s so passionate about becoming an aerialist, and she wants to forge her own path. I really, really loved her.
I also really loved the mental health aspect of this book. No labels are used, because that’s a big discussion in the book. Personally, I read it as Harley and her mom are bipolar and Vas has social anxiety! It was a big part of the book and discussed throughout. I loved how freely it was talked about. Vas straight up admits that he’s not good at talking to strangers and that he gets nervous around them. Wow, that was so cool to see for me! And while my heart hurt for Harley when she talked about her depression and her dark, heavy moments, I liked seeing that to. I liked how she so desperately wanted to chase happiness. I loved how she saw some things in black and white, even though there are shades of gray, because that is something with I’ve struggled with as well.
I loved how messy and complicated life was in this book. There were situations with no right answers. There was no single way to “fix” something, if it could even be fixed. Harley had hard things to grapple with and hard decisions to make. She made them and she lived with them, good or bad. There might have been a few times where I felt like things moved too fast or weren’t developed enough, but I honestly think that’s because this book followed really true to life. Sometimes things just happen and sometimes things don’t follow a specific path.
The relationships were so fantastic. I loved how Harley was trying to find a family and a home. I loved what she ended up finding, and how it was different than what she thought, but still good. I loved the friendships! Vivien and Dexi were so supportive, and I loved their relationship with Harley. The romance was super, super sweet. It happened kind of fast for my taste, but that’s honestly a personal preference and it didn’t bother me that much. There was amazing communication and it was such a healthy relationship.
The circus is a big part of this book, obviously haha. But I just wanted to comment how great it was. Harley’s love for it shines through, and it makes the whole thing seem even better. I loved the performances, the atmosphere, the people, and just everything about it. I loved how passionate Vas was about his music and I loved every time Harley was on the trapeze. (I watched a video of a static trapeze performance and I now have so much more respect for her haha.)
There aren’t enough adequate words to describe how good this book is. How the cover looks is how this book is going to make you feel. It’s bright and magical and dark at times, but so, so real. This book is absolutely amazing.
Thank you for reading!