I found Cassie Beasley's Circus Mirandus to be a compelling read. I'm not convinced that it's the best book ever, ever, or even the best book published in 2015.
First, I do want to mention that I went into this book with little to no expectations. I wasn't expecting it to be wonderful, marvelous, unforgettable, just wow-wow-wow. I'd not read any reviews at all. And I hadn't paid any attention to what others were saying about the book, for better or worse. I do think when you've heard so-much-gush about a book and you've seen all the five-star-reviews that it can change your expectations, and, can at times lead to disappointment.
Second, how I think when I'm actually reading the book sometimes differs greatly from what I think about a book a week or two later after reading. (Not to mention sometimes how great the difference between in-the-moment reading reaction and a year or two from now reflection.) I want this "review" to capture both if at all possible.
As I was reading Circus Mirandus, I was hooked, for the most part. I wanted to know what would happen next. Would the Light-Bender come? What would the Grandfather ask for? While I suspected strongly that the miracle itself would not restore him to oh-so-perfect health and enable him to live forever-and-ever, I hoped that something good would come from his writing to Light-Bender. One thing I greatly enjoyed was the devotion Micah had for his Grandpa, and, his belief in magic, in the circus that he's grown up hearing about. Yes, the book is sad, I definitely found it to be so. It isn't FUN to read about someone, someone that is your everything, dying slowly and painfully. And it particularly isn't fun to read about someone being kept from being with their loved one in the last days. So there were plenty of places in this one that just resonated with pure sadness. But then there were the other scenes: the flashback scenes where readers meet the boy, Ephraim, and the bird-woman, Victoria; and the scenes where Jenny and Micah visit Circus Mirandus themselves. These balance out the sadness, to some degree, by no means erasing or eliminating it. But relieving the situation somewhat. This novel isn't without hope. Sad novels without hope get little love from me. Though I will point out that just because a novel is sad doesn't mean that I will like it. Sadness is no reason to love a novel, and sadness is no reason to automatically hate a novel either.
So as I was reading, I found it compelling. I needed to know what happened next, what happened to the characters, how it all resolved. Once I started reading it, it was the one book I wanted to be reading. I wasn't tempted to pick up any other book. (And I do usually have several going at any time.) So there is something to be said for that.
But. How do I feel days after reading it? My enthusiasm is weakening in places. That's not to say, I don't really like it. But if you'd talked to me while I was reading the book, I'd be GUSHING to say the least. Wanting to tell you how great and wonderful it was. I can't say I'm in a gushing mood right now. It was good. And I'm very glad I read it. It SURPRISED me in some ways. I wasn't expecting it to be a contemporary read. I don't know where I could have gotten the idea that it was historical. I really don't. So it was refreshing to find out it was set relatively contemporary give or take a decade or two. (His grandfather was a child during World War II.)
This is one you should consider reading. You may love it. You may not. But it's worth trying.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews