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Everything could end at any moment.

Jules Maroni is a high-wire walker just like her father. Her family has participated in various circuses for as long as she can remember, but her dream is to join the Cirque American, a prestigious new circus aimed at adults, not children. In the Cirque American, Jules knows that she’ll find fame just like her idol, Bird Millman, who walked on wires high above the city.

But there’s a problem, of course. When Jules’ father agrees to join the Cirque American, they find that there are people who don’t want them there. Cursed items end up woven into the Maroni costumes, but curses aren’t real, are they? Is someone just messing with their confidence, or do the items really have the power to hurt them? The Maroni family has had a feud with the Garcias for years, but is it their famous rivals sabotaging them, or someone else altogether?

Jules must put the pieces together to save her life – literally – because the sabotage could lead to her plummeting to her death.

Girl on a Wire is a lovely young adult novel. And as with any young adult novel, there is a romantic component. Jules (full name: Julietta) falls hard for Remy Garcia (full name: Romeo), a trapeze artist. Despite the borrowing of the names and the whole feuding families thing, Girl on a Wire mostly stays away from the plot of Romeo & Juliet, which I was happy about.

Jules is a strong character, very sure of what she wants in life, and doesn’t allow her first relationship to distract her from her goals. She stands up to her family and to her fellow circus workers, never allowing anyone to get in the way of what she wants, even when she occasionally takes it too far. She knows what she’s capable of and won’t let anyone tell her otherwise. In that respect, she’s a great role model, and for that reason alone, I would recommend this book to young girls.

When I started Girl on a Wire, I expected that it would take place in the circus heyday, but everything happens in the present day. Jules wonders if her wire walking exploits will end up on the internet – this was an unexpected twist on the usual circus books (think The Night Circus or Water for Elephants) that take place decades ago. It’s nice to see the circus lifestyle carrying on in today’s world.

I really enjoyed this book up until the ending, which, reading through other people’s reviews, I see is a common feeling. The ending was such a letdown because it took all the mystery and intrigue that had built up throughout the book and tied it up with a neat little bow over about two pages. The bad guy explains exactly why he did it, and his reason isn’t even good.

(view spoiler)

For a book that was so well-written, the ending felt rushed and inadequate. Overall, the book is excellent, but unfortunately, the ending just didn’t do it for me and I had to subtract a star for that alone.

Final rating: ★