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Cirque American #1

Girl on a Wire

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Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

386 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 1, 2014

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About the author

Gwenda Bond

55 books1,019 followers
Gwenda Bond is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels. Among others, they include the Lois Lane and Cirque American trilogies, and the first official Stranger Things novel, Suspicious Minds. The Match Made in Hell series, which includes Not Your Average Hot Guy and The Date from Hell, are her first rom-coms for adults, and were followed by standalone Mr. & Mrs. Witch. Next up in 2024 are The Frame-Up, a magical heist book, and the first volume in The Wayward Sisters historical romance series.

She cofounded charitable efforts Creators 4 Comics and the Lexington Writer’s Room. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Locus Magazine, Salon, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. She has an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband and their unruly pets. There are rumors she escaped from a screwball comedy.

She writes a newsletter you can sign up for at gwendabond.substack.com. Visit her online at www.gwendabond.com or @gwenda on Twitter.

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5 stars
1,052 (18%)
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3 stars
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98 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 566 reviews
Profile Image for Janice.
135 reviews2 followers
September 29, 2014
What a charmer?! I'm a sucker for well written novels with dazzling leads; throw in info about a subculture and I'm sold. You can tell that Ms. Bond spent a lot of time doing the research into circus families and the tricks that they devote their lives to.

I felt transported.

Here's to Jules and her hero, Bird Millman: Princesses of the Air.

Profile Image for elizabeth tobey.
522 reviews20 followers
September 12, 2014
Girl on a Wire started out really strong: I cared about the characters, I felt my heart speed up during the tense scenes, I didn't want to put the book down.

And then, the ending came. And it was pretty much a Scooby Doo moment where the Bad Guy just explains Why He Did It.

I gave it 4 stars because up until the last couple chapters, I was in love with the book. But those last two get 1 star.
Profile Image for Rachel.
344 reviews11 followers
March 15, 2017
Damn. This was much better than expected, but it still left me wanting more.

It did a lot of things right, especially in regards to Jules and her character arc, and it didn't fall into any of the gross YA tropes I brace myself for when I read a new author. The problems I had were more metaphysical. Because while it was good, I knew the entire time reading that it could be better. That was constantly going through my head: "I like this, but good god it would be fantastic with a little more oomph."

This book takes place in a circus but had very little of the atmosphere or energy one would expect from such a setting. From the writing, the pacing, the little nuances in the characters that make a good book amazing - it was just missing that spark of dark charm and otherworldliness that I want in a book about circus magic.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 29 books5,627 followers
August 30, 2018
So fun and different! You don't read many modern stories about running away to join the circus, so this was very refreshing! Also contains: mystery! Drama! Romance! And descriptions of high wire walking that made my palms sweat!

I really wanted even more from this! I could have read about Jules' previous family life more, and would have liked to have seen Nan in action as a fortune teller!
Profile Image for tanya !.
101 reviews24 followers
January 21, 2023
[ 3 ☆ ] this book was just… ok. there was so much potential, following the magic of good and bad luck, and so much to explore. however, the author didnt expand that world, only telling us the minimum we needed to understand how good and bad luck works, hence it felt flat and boring to read the magic aspect of the book. i would have loved to see some flashbacks, or some more world-building on how this magic came to be.

another thing i really didnt like was the mc (at the beginning). like girl i get it, you want to be the best, and you go around acting all high-and-mighty. i loved her character development, how she realised that its ok to ask for help, but at the same time, i didnt like how the author portrayed her as a strong and smart character when she went around whining and forcing others to adhere to her performances. the way she forced thurston to let her do a performance, and then blundered said performance had me SICK. like babe, i know u wanted to catch a killer, but was there really a need to fumble up a performance to showcase it?????? had me livid.

other than that, i was really intrigued in sam and dita, and i wish they ended up happily ever after (spoilers), and i was going to cry when sam died. remy and jules were also so cute, and i really liked how supportive he was of her and vice versa during their performances. the miscommunication trope was painful to read, but im glad they were back together in the end.
Profile Image for Tracey Mamerow.
10 reviews8 followers
September 11, 2014
This book was definitely entertaining. I loved the look into the circus life (I think I'm on a circus kick) and I loved the strength of the main character. It kept my curiosity, stressed me out when she was on the high wire, and made me want to see what would happen.
However, my one disappointment was with the ending. The story built up so well, asking questions about magic and who had it in for them, etc. that I was expecting a more...epic? of a conclusion. Instead, the story was concluded in all of two pages with no feeling of satisfaction or fulfillment. Novio wasn't deeply connected to the earlier conflict, so it felt kind of false that he was the one waging the battle. In fact, he was so separate from the conflict, that I felt the antagonist had to be Kat, the only one around form the original conflict. But instead she was simply a passive secondary character with really no purpose.

So while I enjoyed the story, I think it petered out at the end when it could have ended strong. The magic that was woven throughout seemed to be dismissed in the conclusion, as well as the severity of the misdeeds. And that is why I would rate it 3 stars. You have got to end strong to get a stellar rating.
Profile Image for Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight).
884 reviews124 followers
May 28, 2016
4 Stars

Full Review:
I knew I wanted this book as soon as I saw it because CIRCUS! I absolutely love circus. And one of the best things about this book, as opposed to other circus books, was that the author really delved into the descriptions of the acts and made the practices and performances an integral part of the story rather than just using the circus as a backdrop.

Not only that, the descriptions of the wire walking and trapeze—not even of what skills the performers did but rather of how they carried themselves and what was going through their minds—were so beautifully written and somehow felt both real and surreal all at once, which was just kind of perfect.

The way he moved was enough, so easy that everyone watching believed gravity had given up on trying to keep him tethered to earth. He simply walked on air.

I also appreciated the descriptions of Jules’s costumes because they sounded gorgeous and because getting into costume is just as much a part of performing as the rest. And I couldn’t help but smile at the part about her getting ready in the “nondescript women’s restroom” because anyone who’s ever been a performer of any kind—circus, gymnastics, drama, dance, etc.—can relate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that, and I love that it was mentioned because it’s always struck me as an interesting part of the experience, that contrast of getting all decked out in makeup and glitter and hairspray… in such a plain, forgettable, random public restroom, but I digress.

As for the characters, Jules was a great protagonist, especially for a YA book, because she was relatable and a great role model. She worked hard to achieve her dreams and was mature, intelligent, and confident. But she was only 16, so she wasn’t perfect, she sometimes got distracted by boys, she didn’t always have the answers, and she sometimes acted on impulse. But in the end she always learned from her mistakes. And then there was Remy, who managed to charm me the same way he did Jule’s with his good looks, witty banter, hard work, and sincerity. Even the side characters were well-developed with their own lives and story arcs. Plus the relationship between Jules and Remy was a supportive, healthy one.

The plot was also interesting, with bits of magic trickled throughout. I was so glad the mystery was never forced like it is in some books (I can’t stand it when characters are vague for no reason).

Ok I’m about to wrap this up because it’s getting kind of long, but I simply can’t resist sharing one more amazing quote…

Remy stilled. It was impossible not to notice when he went motionless, because he was usually so filled with energy. He was rarely truly still. Some part of him was always swinging through the air at high speed, even when he was sitting next to me.

So overall, this was a wonderful book with beautiful writing about circus, love, and magic, and really, I can’t think of a more perfect combination!

Recommended For:
Anyone who likes circus, love, and magic! Also anyone who wants a YA book with a great female lead and a healthy relationship.

Original Review on Blog
Profile Image for lisa.
551 reviews17 followers
September 11, 2014
i have a lot of thoughts that are tangential to this book, so:

1. i don't understand how LITERALLY NO ONE IN THE BOOK commented on the fact that these two families who hated each other had kids about the same age who were LITERALLY NAMED ROMEO AND JULIETTA, even after they were caught sneaking around and making out.

2. i was trying to figure out why i was so unbothered by the problems in both this and the paper magician, and then i realized that i probably just really miss reading. i've been doing mostly audiobooks this year, and that's nice, i like the audiobooks, i like experiencing the stories a different way, but jesus lord i fucking love reading. (i also love having hands that can hold my phone or kindle or GASP an actual book long enough for me to read it, WHAT A REVELATION.)

3. i saw this author at dragon*con, and she talked about this book for a bit and i wish there had been more of the things she talked about. i wish we had seen more of jules' obsession with old glamour, for instance. for someone like that, she shouldn't have to come out and SAY that she finds cell phones and texting inelegant, that should be obvious.

4. i...really loved the romance. whatever, i am a sucker for dumb circus boys, and jules and remy's relationship was really sweet and built up over the course of the book in a believable way. (also sam and dita!!!)

Profile Image for Julie.
938 reviews241 followers
April 21, 2015
At first glance, this seems like it should've been my jam: a Romeo and Juliet retelling set against two rival families of circus performers. Pretty great premise, right? I love circuses!

But nah. Most of the time, I was waffling around 2 stars -- the ending made me straight-up want to take yet another star off, but I'm going to be forgiving since the high-wire scenes were tense and well-written, and there were some good elements here, they were just never utilised the way they should've.

Various thoughts in no particular order:
→ If you're going to be a transparent Romeo and Juliet retelling (Romeo "Remy" Garcia, Julieta "Jules" Maroni), then for the love of god, you cannot have your character's parents explicitly name him after the Shakespearean character. And then you cannot have Julieta make fun of him for it! It's far, far, far too on the nose -- and if she can mock him for his name, then why doesn't anyone in the book point out "hey, wait, they're named Romeo and Julieta and started dating even though their families hate each other, ha ha isn't that cute?"

Not that I wanted them to point that out, I would have hated it if they did -- but the point is that they half-acknowledged it, which raises that weirdness of Girl On A Wire occupying the same in-text world as Shakespeare. The key is just don't acknowledge your source material. In fact, I would've preferred it if their actual names had just been Remy and Jules: the initials are all we need, that's enough to allude to it.

→ True Love At First Sight is boring as hell to me. I grew tired of reading about Remy's Sculpted Biceps and Jules' attraction to him was always in your face; there are far more subtle ways to show it.

→ I guess our two leads are plucky and funny, but I don't really have a good sense of their personalities beyond Generally Likeable YA Characters. As a minor character, Dita was actually the most interesting, but seemed a bit like she was just there for a touch of flavour, since she didn't get to do anything and we didn't delve into her character much. I would've loved to see more from the bi-curious sister who dresses in snappy suits. :(

On the other hand, the one I personally found intriguing characterisation-wise right from the start was Remy's asshole older brother, Novio.

→ Remy's dad is never even named! I thought the lack of spotlight focus on him would mean he was the villain, but nope. Why is he even here if he's not a character at all, in a cast that's already pretty damned small?

→ Nan is pretty great, though. But then the scene where she and Jules were watching old movies and all of a sudden ~they were talking about Jules instead, she was Cinderella, look at all these hidden layers to the conversation~ drove me nutty, because that was fucking outright told/explained to us by Jules. Again: UGH, COULD'VE BEEN MORE SUBTLE.

→ Ending was supremely anti-climactic, resolved through conversation and a rational discussion. Godddd.

→ All in all, it was mostly irritating due to doing lots of telling and not showing. I wish the circus had felt more vibrant and thriving and we'd gotten a better sense of the other performers (because come on, all this emphasis on COMMUNITY and CIRCUS BEING FAMILY ---- but the book was really just Garcias and Maronis). Most other circus books I've read have featured large ensembles, because that's the whole point. The high-wire scenes are great, though, and Sam & Dita are good, so I'll give it 2 stars.
Profile Image for Danielle Hamilton.
351 reviews48 followers
April 1, 2015
Dnf @ 10%.

Really don't have any desire to keep on with this; it lacks magic and is missing big worldbuilding opportunities. Was a freebie so I'm moving on :/ No rating as I didn't get far enough to have enough of an opinion. Not terrible though, for the record.

Too many books, too little time to spend on ones you don't want to!
Profile Image for Kovaxka.
531 reviews27 followers
April 23, 2020
Szeretem az ifjúsági könyveket, az nem lehetett a gond. A cirkuszról szóló könyveket is bírom, sőt mióta felfedeztem a Recirquel társulatot, a cirkuszi produkciók is meg tudnak érinteni. Nagyra tartom az artistákat, csodálom őket. Talán csak rossz hangulatomban talált, de ezt az írásművet rendkívül gyengének találtam. Körülményeskedő stílusban, ezerszer körüljárva, fölösleges köröket futva tálal egy cirkusz világában játszódó, tulajdonképpen megrázó, ám romantikus történetet. Az alapötlet nem is rossz, azonban a végeredmény nem is eléggé cirkuszos, de főleg nem elég mágikus/misztikus, viszont rendkívül túlírt. Kínszenvedés volt, na.
Profile Image for Alex.
642 reviews16 followers
September 24, 2019
You can read my review over on my book blog, Bluegrass Book Nerd. (Well, it's not up on my blog yet, but will be soon!)

Girl On a Wire is a taut, gripping read. (Ha. Taut. As in wire tension. Guys, I made a pun.) There was so much that I loved about this book, even though it's a bit of an obvious retelling of Romeo and Juliet. (The protagonists' names are Romeo and Julieta; not exactly subtle, but I'm willing to look past it.)

I read this book while flying from New Orleans back to my home in Louisville, which was perhaps not the wisest idea. Not because this book isn't engrossing--because it absolutely is--but because the experience of high-wire exploits combined with those dips you get in the air when flying was flat-out frightening. Bond builds tension so well in this book, most notably with the high-wire scenes; my palms were sweating as I read of Jules' feats on the wire. Making your reader scared for your characters' safety is a pretty good talent to have, especially when you keep remembering, "These people are fictional. This world is fictional. It's okay if they fall--there are no real-world consequences." With a novel like this, that logic is bull--this feels believable.

The central romance was also well-built and teased at in an agonizing way. Since this is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, you get a good idea from the start who's gonna fall in love. And it takes them two hundred pages to officially get together. Definitely what I'd call a slow burn. The romance is not the be-all end-all to the story, but it was definitely worth reading.

Speaking of the plot... there's a lot going on here. Circus mysteries! Romance! Plot twists galore! For the most part, I found Bond's plotting excellent. There were several twists that I didn't quite expect , and everything went well until the ending, which felt a little flat compared to the rest of the book. Still, this wasn't the kind of ending where I felt like throwing the book out the window, so it didn't ruin the book for me--it was just a little frustrating.

Odds & ends: I have a lot of Dita feelings, as we get a character who is figuring out her (bi)sexuality--not quite a coming out story by any means, but she's very obviously questioning, which I thought was great! (I wanted a LOT more of Dita, to be honest. I cared so much for her and wanted to hug her all the time--but she's hardly ever there. Oh well. She can live on in my mind's fanfic?) Also, holy wow, there are some beautiful sentences in here. "Butterfly wings splashed with a sparkle of colours, twisting vines that gleamed green, fox ears that curved above golden cheeks" (16). How can I learn to write this beautifully?
Profile Image for Emily Donnellan.
547 reviews432 followers
April 8, 2015
Reading this book I realized that I know way more about circus life then I thought I did. Since Water For Elephants I have noticed a lot of books are using the circus as a whimsical setting for their novels and this knowledge seems to be rubbing off on me. I think that’s one of the reasons that, although I enjoyed this book, I found myself comparing it to a lot of other stories and it ended up losing some its magic.

Jules Maroni is a high-wire walker just like her father. She’s been performing for as long as she could stand on the wire and Jules wants to be just like her high-wire walking hero, Bird Millman. Early in the novel Jules convinces her family to join the Cirque American despite the presence of the Maroni’s rival family, The Flying Garcia’s.

I liked this old family rivalry and all the secrets that it held. It gave the story a fantastical feel. I’m also a total sucker for curses, tarot cards, and other sorts of magi. Initially the mystery and the secrets behind the rivalry of the Marioni’s and Garcia’s drew me in. But I was able to figure out everything around 60% in to the story. So the ending felt very drawn out and I found myself getting a little bored.

Luckily, the relationship between Remy and Jules kept me reading. I liked their late night training rendezvous’. It was a sort of forbidden love, although the only characters that really cared were grandparents so it didn’t feel all that forbidden. Still, I liked both of these characters and it was the slow-burn kind of romance you can’t help but root for.

Overall, Girl on a Wire was a fun, although rather predictable novel. I enjoyed the setting and characters and plan on reading more of Gwenda Bond’s writing. I’ve heard good things about her other novel Blackwood.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
883 reviews252 followers
March 7, 2017
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd
I received an ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wow! This was such a surprising read!
I've been seeing this book all over the web, but never thought that it would be worth reading. All I knew was that it took place in a circus, which didn't interest me for some reason. I eventually read the synopsis and decided that I should give it a try. I saw that this book has a family rivalry, which I'm always a sucker for.

I was expecting this to me an okay read, but this ended up being such a great book! I was drawn into the book quickly and was immediately glued into the pages. I actually read the entire book in one sitting. Above all, this book is a mystery in a circus setting (a setting which I ended up liking) and I really interesting in how everything played out.

I also ended up liking the romance, which is surprising, but I was shipping it the entire time.

My only issue with this book was how the mystery was resolved. I can't explain without spoilers, but it seemed really unbelieveable and way too much was done for just a small thing.

Overall, a really intriguing mystery with a really great, and new, setting. I had issues with the end, but other than that, this was a really amazing book!
I would definitely recommend it!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,290 reviews215 followers
December 25, 2017
Enemies become lovers or do they?
This is a take on Romeo and Juliet, but in the circus.

Girl on a Wire is about Jules, who is a wire walker. Sounds highly dangerous but hey, the circus life is for her. There she runs into the Garcia family. Jules doesn't have the best relationship with them or Remy Garcia due to the bad blood that runs between them. However, Remy and Jules start to develop feelings for each other - sounds cliche but it was actually a really good and enjoyable book.

Now I could never walk on a tight rope, hell - I've never even been to the circus in my life. But just know that I could never get on a tight rope. Not even if Ryan Gosling and Chris Pine were on it. Sorry, but I'd probably fall and die. I'm not afraid of heights - just afraid of getting hurt or dying because of something stupid. However, I did really like how this book brought you into their mind and sort of helped you figure out what they are thinking while performing their tricks.

Again, just like in the second book of this series - Jules and Remy are highly supportive of each other. I just love that. I loved them. I wish I was friends with them. I was constantly swooning and shipping them.

Overall, a great book. I would totally reread it again.
Profile Image for Suze.
1,878 reviews1,310 followers
December 25, 2016
Jules Maroni wants to join the Cirque American. It's a big and famous circus and she'll have the chance to do a fantastic performance there. Jules is a high-wire walker. She can makes pirouettes on the rope and she isn't afraid to take risks. She tricks her family into joining the circus of her dreams. Only the Garcia family is also working for the circus and they hate the Maronis.

Jules doesn't understand what's going on with her grandmother. There are so many secrets and she has to find out what they are to be able to prevent history from repeating itself. One of the Garcia brothers, Remy, doesn't want Jules to be his enemy. Together they try to find clues about what happened in the past and they want to bring back peace in the circus. Will they be able to succeed and what will be the price they have to pay?

Girl on a Wire is a wonderful book about the circus and magic. I'm a big fan of both and loved this story from the start. It was fun to read about the circus itself, the beautiful costumes, the way of life of the artists and the relationships between people. There are plenty of secrets and there's a mystery aspect. Jules and Remy are great together. I loved their connection and their sweet communication. They both work hard to achieve their goals and I really liked that about them. They are interesting main characters and I loved reading about their adventures.

Gwenda Bond has created a beautiful, mysterious and enchanting world. Her vivid descriptions make her story come to life very well. I could easily picture everything she writes about and I enjoyed being so thoroughly informed about every aspect of the circus. Gwenda Bond doesn't spare her characters and there's one really sad moment in the book. I loved the idea of the seemingly happy cheerful circus environment with so much drama behind the scenes. Girl on a Wire is a captivating story about two fascinating families and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Albert.
1,426 reviews32 followers
February 5, 2015
Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond is a Romeo and Juliet tale set beneath the big tent and high up on the wire. A feat Bond does well in this teen lit book that mixes romance, intrigue and dark magic into a novel of forbidden love and betrayal.

Jules Maroni is a sixteen year old high wire walker who is following in the family business. But she is tired of the small circus route and dreams of making it big time. Only her family are outcasts in the circus world and when they are offered the opportunity to join the new Cirque American, the Maroni's must confront their nemesis, the Flying Garcias!

But Jules won't pay attention to the drama and is intent on her own fame. Quickly gaining notoriety for being the girl who dances on the high wire. But family history is not put aside by others and totems of misfortune and bad luck are soon found on her wardrobe. Someone is cursing her and she needs to find out who it is before it is too late.

Help comes to her from the most unlikely of sources. Remy Garcia. The young famous trapeze artist from the Garcia clan. Together they must unravel the mystery behind the feud between the Maroni and Garcia family before one of them ends up dead. Or both.

This really is a Romeo and Juliet tale, even the names of the young teenage lovers is similar. But Bond modernizes Juliet into an ambitious and smart young woman. Quite capable of caring for herself. She does this without making Remy (Romeo) into a bumbling sidekick clown or a brooding, muscular (cause chicks dig a vascular man!) macho caricature. For that she deserves a very strong mention and praise.

Both Jules and Remy are strong role model type characters.

So here is hoping that this novel does not get lost or missed in the teen lit field. It deserves to be found and read and enjoyed.

A very good read.
Profile Image for Karolina Kat.
204 reviews52 followers
February 17, 2016
Solid 3.5 stars rounded up due to my pure enjoyment.

Girl on a Wire enchanted me with the choice of theme and thrilling descriptions of circus performances. It's a nice, fast and pleasant read, where it's easy to bond with characters, even the heroine, who despite her flaws is still the one to root for - especially during her wire-walks.

The only disappointing part of the story was villian's revelation. As mentioned in many reviews, it trully was Scooby Doo-ish, when the person responsible just openly admits to everything that has been done.
Despite that, it still a very enjoyable novel with great carnival setting.
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 37 books8,964 followers
October 9, 2015
I often felt like I was walking the wire with the heroine. She is such a cool character and I found myself wishing I was as cool as her. Love Remy and the whole circus culture. The grandmother's backstory is so compelling! Wouldn't mind reading her story too.
Profile Image for Clare Lund.
604 reviews7 followers
December 29, 2018
3.5 stars. Gorgeous descriptions with an intriguing plot line about circus family rivalry and old magic. But the ending was completely predictable, which deflated my previous excitement about this book. Ages 13 and up.
Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 3 books1,634 followers
November 22, 2022
This book was more disappointing than entertaining.

I did enjoy the mystery surrounding the Maroni history, and it was fun to see competitive aerialists working together to solve said mystery as well as to make the “circus” great again. (I use quotes, because a real circus involves animals.) The distrust and competition between these families were spectacular. There was solid family drama, which kept me reading long into the night.

This felt like a very liberal-minded book, particularly with misleading quotes like this one, which didn’t reflect the true history of the animal-involved circuses: “aimed at adults, not kids—no sad elephants or angry big cats, just old-style glamour and logic-defying feats under a big top tent.”

The net was not used properly. If it had been set at a teen’s knees’ height, there wouldn’t be enough room between the floor and net to prevent injury. More research was needed here.

I was disappointed in how thick the superstitions were layered in. It felt cloying at times.

The sexual confusion and perversion were inappropriate for the intended audience of the book.

I will not be continuing this series, as I discovered it was not to my taste.

Content: alcohol, cross dressing, tobacco, tarot cards/tarot reading, superstition, crude sexual terms, marital affairs, teen sex considered, profanity, expletives, black magic, sexual confusion, swearing “in the name of Barnum,” crude jokes, mythology
Profile Image for Kristina.
882 reviews32 followers
July 9, 2021
I finally finished!
This was really well written. I loved the descriptions of the circus costumes, hierarchy of the families, and the way traveling circuses work. The descriptions of the acts like trapeze and especially all the high wire walking scenes were so stressful. I sort of lost interest midway through, I think there was too much happening in the plot maybe or I just could only read snippets at a time so I couldn’t stay with a flow. Overall I would recommended and someday read more in the series.
Profile Image for tellacnders.
246 reviews18 followers
May 29, 2021
so good so good so good so underrated omg julesremy has my entire heart, i'm so in love with the whole concept and the plot and ofc i'm a sucker for circus stories, 5/5!!
Profile Image for Mieneke.
782 reviews84 followers
November 12, 2014
One of the two inaugural authors for Strange Chemistry back in the day and one of my favourites from their list is Gwenda Bond. I've read and enjoyed both her previous novels, Blackwood and The Woken Gods , and thought her newest offering, Girl on a Wire sounded very intriguing. Thus, when the author approached me about reviewing it, I didn't hesitate to say yes. And it has to be said, that with Girl on a Wire Bond remains on form. It was a delightful story with some very dark twists and genuine heartbreak.

In essence, Girl on a Wire is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in the modern-day circus. Yet it’s not solely focused on the love affair between Jules and Remy, but also on the reason their families are feuding in the first place. Consequently, there are several mysteries in the book. The first and most pressing one is the identity of the person who is trying to sabotage the Maroni’s, the second one is the cause of the long-standing feud that’s fuelling the sabotage. These two questions are closely intertwined and I enjoyed the various sleights of hand Bond displays in revealing the answers, she wrong-footed me a few times.

The circus is a place that has always had a sense of magic and mystique about it and probably always will. The circus has always been a place where people, often outsiders, ran away too and circus folk are often portrayed as a close knit community and not always of the most respected kind. In Girl on a Wire the community is indeed close knit, but as the book is told from within the circus, there is no sense of the exotic about the magic and mystique of the circus; there is the love and passion for their art and craft, but none of the romanticism—Jules and her family and the other members of the circus work very, very hard at what they do and this is clearly shown. I loved the details Bond added in on wire work and the references she included. In fact when Nik Wallenda was in the news for his latest daredevil act I immediately had to think of Jules and Girl in a Wire. In fact, I even tweeted the author about how Jules did it first.

Jules is a fabulous main character. She’s head strong, ambitious, snarky when she needs to be, and she is Maroni to the core. Family is what is most important to Jules, almost as integral to her life as is the wire. Her relationship with her dad was one of my favourite things about this story. Jules and Emil are very close and Emil is Jules’ biggest idol. While she’s obviously close to both her parents, it’s clear that her dad is her hero. The other Maroni’s, Jules’ grandmother Nan and her cousin Sam, are wonderful too and the four of them form a close family group. I love position Nan has as Mater Familias and the way they all look to her for sage advice and approval. Jules’ inevitable Romeo is Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia family who drove Nan and Emil out of the main circus circuit years ago. I liked Remy, he isn’t afraid to speak his mind, whether he’s dealing with his family or with Jules’, even if he isn’t ready to openly defy them over Jules. However, my favourite Garcia had to be Remy’s little sister Dita. Dita has a tremendous sense of self, even if she’s still figuring out her identity. She’s genderqueer and as such is looked at a bit askance by her mother and eldest brother, but she’s very close to Remy and I loved how her own love story developed. The reader mostly glimpses it from afar, but she and her paramour are so lovely  and sweet together, that the way their story played out completely broke my heart.

In fact, Girl on a Wire was a heartbreaking story overall. The events described and their roots in the past encompass so much love, hurt and grief. Yet despite the heartbreak, there is also a lot of laughter and I really enjoyed the lighter scenes between Jules and Remy and Jules and Sam. Our Jules has witty repartee aplenty. The book ends on hope and a new beginning and left me with a smile. I loved Girl on a Wire and with her third novel Gwenda Bond has firmly landed on my must-read author list. If you enjoy fast-paced, fun YA with a dash of mystery and romance then do pick up Girl on a Wire, as it offers this in spades. And that’s not even mentioning its gorgeous cover.

This book was provided for review by the author.
Profile Image for Christy.
1,505 reviews258 followers
July 2, 2016
Catch our discussion over at Tales of the Ravenous Reader!

"Do you even know what you're capable of?"

Girl on a Wire is a familiar set of story elements set in a less familiar setting: the circus. The book is full engaging elements such as forbidden romance, generation-spanning family drama, mystery, superstition, and a girl's journey of figuring out who she is in the context of this unique world.

I can't imagine what Gwenda's research process was like for this. Did she watch a lot of American Horror Story: Freakshow? Maybe she visited Barnum and Bailey or perhaps a Cirque du Soleil show. Either way, I was hooked throughout the story not only because of the mystery surrounding the circus culture but because of the depth of the characters. Jules, our main character, is on a journey to rebuild her family's image while also trying to figure out how the heck they ended up being second rate even though they're top notch performers.

We meet Jules as she's trying to make a name for herself while also redeeming her family name. As the book opens, she's run away to show off what she can do and successfully secures her family a place in the top circus, despite that she'll be paired with longstanding rivals, the Flying Garcias. Jules is steady and I enjoyed getting to know her. I also really loved her wardrobe and decided to put together a look inspired by her!

Jules is a skeptic, despite the superstition held by those around her. I mean, really...How could her Nan be the cause of all the bad things that have happened in the past and are there really such things as magic good luck charms? I'll leave that to you to figure out but Jules personal, romantic, and mystery journeys are definitely shaped by everyone's ideas about magic and what has taken place. You'll find yourself nervous as she waltzes across the wire. You'll bite your nails as the mystery unfolds. You'll find yourself with feels as Jules and Remy develop together. I consider myself a Valentine (a fan of Jules) and can't wait to see if she's in Girl in the Shadows!
Profile Image for Jackie B. - Death by Tsundoku.
757 reviews50 followers
January 13, 2016
Yup! A Romeo and Juliet circus mystery. Who could say no?

The parallels between Romeo and Juliet are perfect. The old family rivalry. The fist fight at the beginning (Poor Tybalt-- I mean, Sam!). The secrets. The children knowing they couldn't be seen with people in the other family. Forbidden love. However, I appreciate how they aren't drawn out too much. There are subtle variations which keeps us on our toes. [spoiler]For example, Sam and Dia end up together first, making two elicit relationships a part of this storyline. And when Sam ends up dying instead of Jules, well, I was disappointed but also really happy we didn't follow everything to a T.[/spoiler] Tarot cards, magic, bad luck, and circus tradition gave this story a fresh feel.

I loved reading about the performances. Remy is a trapeze artist trying for the neigh impossible quad-summersault. Jules is a wire-walker inspired by Bird Millman. Taking a page out of Bird's book, Jules learns to walk a wire between buildings. Bond does a magnificent job getting the reader to be actively afraid for the characters. The tension building made me anxious as I wondered, "Is this where Jules falls?!"

My biggest issue was with the ending.

All in all, quite a delightful read. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in YA Romeo/Juliet retellings. For sure.
445 reviews
October 7, 2014
Free from Amazon on Kindle.

Interesting, however I was completely thrown off by the magic. It was not set up well at all and just came out of the blue. The world didn't seem built for it and I kept waiting for them all to say, "Ok, the magic was just in our heads, there really is a logical explanation for this." Even in the ending I thought the main character would get over her fear of it because it was in her head all the time - but no, she fears it and the ending was bland. The "bad guy" did a big "bad guy speech" in which he/she reveals everything with little or no prodding and somehow magic is going to cure him of it? The book started with promise, but fell very short.
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