Angie Andrewes's Reviews > The Invisible Circus

The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan
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Dec 03, 13

Read from May 25 to 29, 2012

Pat Conroy is quoted as having said about Egan's precocious debut that 'if there were any justice in the world, no one would be allowed to write a first novel of such beauty and accomplishment.' I completely agree! I wouldn't say 'The Invisible Circus' is perfect, but it comes very damn near. It's a story about love and loss, about growing up and about all those significant things in life. It circumnavigates the globe and transcends time, taking its young heroine from San Francisco to the mountains of Italy, from the 1960s of her childhood right through to 1978 where she finds herself suddenly a young adult with no idea where to go next.

Phoebe O'Connor is your average, aimless teenager. Just graduated high school, she's eighteen and has secured herself a spot at Berkeley. However, this is 1978 and the end of the 1960s has left a nostalgic tint on the world's glasses. Phoebe ponders desperately what became of the idealistic hippies her sister Faith hung out with and eventually left the country with before committing suicide on the cusp of a new decade, in 1970. Eventually, she escapes to Europe to find out and along the way finds herself on a journey not just to discovery of her sister's true identity but also of her own. It may sound corny, but Egan handles the subject matter deftly. Phoebe is a character you feel a great deal of sympathy for, and her sister Faith flits in and out of the narrative, an adventuresome sprite you as the reader yearn to know more about. A very satisfying read. And marvelous for a first novel!
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