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Harley in the Sky

av Akemi Dawn Bowman

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner
518400,722 (4.25)Ingen/inga
Eighteen-year-old Harley, dreams of quitting school to join her parents' Las Vegas circus and when they refuse, she joins a rival circus where she must learn hard truths and face consequences.
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That was so beautiful ( )
  zombiibean | Nov 20, 2020 |
I loved this book so much. I bought the special Once Upon a Bookclub edition and it was so awesome. The gifts that came with the book were great and so spot on. I learned so much about the circus. I would love for this book to be turned into a movie. I enjoyed traveling with Harley in the circus and watching her grow as a person and a performer. I was so happy with the ending. So beautifully written. ( )
  DKnight0918 | Sep 12, 2020 |
Lovely read.

It took me a while to warm up to Harley but I think she was a wonderfully complex character and I really enjoyed following her growth. The circus setting was, obviously, A - I sure do love reading about athletic and creative people. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
When I picked up Harley in the Sky, I definitely thought I was going to be getting a different kind of book. I must have missed all the chatter and conversation about it by the Street Team, which makes sense because I haven’t exactly been the most active on Twitter. I picked up this book so quickly because I love books about the circus.

But this isn’t a book about the circus. Not really.

In my opinion, this book is about living with untreated mental illness, and rising above it. And that is fine and good. Really. We’re not given Harley’s diagnosis, but it feels like something akin to manic depression. Nearly every chapter is a conversation about what it’s like to be Harley, trying to untangle her emotions and rise to her dreams. Some chapters are about her heritage and her family. A few chapters are about Vas and their blossoming relationship. What’s left… those chapters are about the circus.

It took me by surprise. I wish I had seen this book raised up more as a book discussing manic depression, or as a diverse book (Harley is part-Asian and spends some time discussing this in a few different places). Because everything I read was about Harley’s dream about being an aerialist, I went in ready for carnival magic akin to The Night Circus or Caraval. Because I was going into this one looking for a circus book as opposed to a rep-heavy contemporary, I think my takeaways were a bit muted.

Again, nothing wrong with a rep-heavy contemporary. They’re amazing! I just go into those with a different mindset. And I found myself getting impatient with chapter after chapter where Harley explains her life to others in convenient dialogue exchanges. These sections felt like huge info dumps and I was never able to immerse myself fully into Maison du Mystère. The atmosphere faltered under the weight of the conversation.

Then, there was Harley. I had a difficult time liking Harley, because she is so incredibly selfish. And I sort of feel like a terrible person for saying that, because the way her mental illness is discussed, it felt like that was used as a way to explain away her behavior. I empathize with Chloe, who tried to make Harley understand the consequences of her actions… and just gave up. Other characters are a little more likable – I liked Vas as first, but… I dunno. After a while I felt like we only skimmed the surface but that was all there was to him, a shell. Other performers at Maison had possibility as well – like Maggie! – but the story was so absorbed in Harley, everyone else disappeared behind her inflated sense of self-importance. We couldn’t spend too much time with the minor characters, because we had to spend all our time with Harley. And I didn’t like Harley? So that was a downer.

It worked for Harley’s personality, it really did. I just didn’t love it.

I can’t say this is a “bad book” – because it’s not! I think it accomplished what it set out to do – to provide a narrative for those who don’t have the support they need to find themselves in an oppressive world, and for those who struggle with mental illness but are not provided tools so they must build their own. For that message, Harley in the Sky was a success. But it wasn’t the circus book I was looking for, and I didn’t enjoy reading it.

And that’s okay! Not all books are for me. This one wasn’t. But it may be the perfect fit for someone else. ( )
  Morteana | May 26, 2020 |
Akemi Dawn Bowman is one of my favourite authors and like her first book Starfish, I loved Harley too. Trust Akemi to write about identity and mental health issues, and she would do absolute justice to these themes.

Harley in the Sky follows Harley Yoshi Milano, a teen living in Las Vegas, whose parents run the Teatro della Notte circus. Harley dreams of joining her parents’ circus and becoming an aerialist. But her parents refuse that because they want her to join college. She then leaves home and joins the rival travelling circus Maison du Mystère to pursue her dreams.

Both of Harley’s parents’ are biracial and that makes it difficult for her to understand all four different heritages of her. She feels like she exists in this in-between space. People told her how she’s ‘not Chinese enough’ but also ‘not American enough’. Akemi challenges the racial stereotypes and prejudices. She shows that Harley has the right to every part of her identity without anyone telling her that she’s ‘not enough’.

Through Harley, Akemi has tried to show a multi-layered character. Harley makes mistakes but she grows out of them and learns understanding and forgiveness along the way. Though ambitious, she always had good intentions and cared for others. She knows that putting her ambitions above her family and friends is not right, but at the same time, she doesn’t want to regret not ‘trying’.

Vas stole my heart the moment he appeared on the screen. I liked how broody and mysterious he was and took his time to open up. Somehow, whenever there was a scene of Vas playing, I wanted to hear his music on screen? I loved Popo, Harley’s grandmother. She provided some lighter moments in the story as well as the wisdom Harley needed about her heritage.

Everyone talks about a backup plan. and Harley says that why it is always that people who wish to pursue careers in the humanities streams are asked about that? And parents always have some pre-set goals for children and to achieve them they pressurize them. Harley’s mother uses different tactics to emotionally manipulate her. But behind all those, there is, of course, parental love and Akemi has shown this beautifully.

Depression is the core of the story and Akemi has presented it in a very subtle and realistic way. Harley’s emotions were generally all over the place and often she found it hard to get words out of her mouth. I was able to relate to her concerns, her rage and her fury. Akemi has also shown how people still don’t take mental health seriously. We see the neglect of mental health by Harley’s parents. Her family had a stigma surrounding the conversations related to this. Harley also talked about using ‘labels’ that until you put it inside some label, people don’t take it seriously.

This book also celebrates (found) family and the life of a circus. Harley’s love for the circus is infectious. You can’t help but dream about the big top, trapeze artists, shiny stage, costumes and the whole beautiful aura of it. Though in the beginning people of Maison du Mystère didn’t accept her, slowly she made a space for herself in the troupe through her hard work and determination.

The best thing about Akemi’s writing is how effortless it feels. It is always poetic but at the same time leaves an impact that is hard to forget. I was fully immersed in the story since the beginning. Akemi knows exactly how to balance between descriptive elements, characters, important issues, dialogues and pacy plots. Even the characters’ internal feelings and conflicts don’t sound boring. She has distributed this story into essential parts where each moment, whether it’s small or big, has it’s own importance and eventually leads to some important moments later in the story. You can’t help but be compelled and enthralled by the story of Harley and her dreams.

I have come to a point now where I would read anything written by Akemi. And if you are someone who is yet to start reading her work, why not start with Harley? In simple words, just READ IT! Definitely recommended. ( )
  SimantVerma | Mar 30, 2020 |
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Eighteen-year-old Harley, dreams of quitting school to join her parents' Las Vegas circus and when they refuse, she joins a rival circus where she must learn hard truths and face consequences.

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