ARC Review | Harley in the Sky

Title: Harley in the Sky

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: March 10, 2020

My rating: ★★★★

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams. 


Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a eARC in exchange for an honest review.

After finishing Harley in the Sky, all I want is circus related contemporaries! This was my first time reading anything by Akemi Dawn Bowman, but I can say with certainty that it will not be my last. Her writing was so beautiful and she knows how to pull at your heart strings. 

Our maim character Harley wants nothing more than to train to become a trapeze artist. While she is passionate about her dream, her parents don’t think it’s a great idea. They only want what is best for her but Harley feels like they aren’t listening or supporting her. Because of this, she really will do anything and everything to be in the circus. Harley is not perfect by any means, but I still loved her. She makes multiple mistakes and she hurts the people she loves. She has good intentions, she just goes about things the wrong way. I really couldn’t help but root for her though.

This book comes with an amazing and diverse group of characters. I loved all the circus crew that Harley mets along the way. In particular, Dexi and Vivien were there for her when she really needed it the most. Also, Vas was sweet and helpful in his own quiet way. 

The circus setting was perfect. I loved getting to see behind the scenes and learning how much hard work goes into each performance and event. It brought back memories of going to the circus as a kid. It was always so magical. The author really made everything come to life!

Of course there was a romance and it was really cute. Being that it wasn’t the main focus, I felt like it took a while for the chemistry to appear, but when it did, it was THERE! I love that their relationship kind of mirrored Harley’s parents in a way. I can’t really explain what I mean by that because of spoilers, but if you read this book then you’ll know. It was a sweet thing to add.

Harley in the Sky touches upon mental health and the stigma surrounding it. Harley struggles with what seems like depression (it wasn’t labeled or diagnosed as far as I can remember). Her family believes that it is something that will just pass and it can be ignored. Harley though, wants them to understand that it’s a part of who she is. It is her normal. I want to mention that there is a brief discussion about suicide. It is only a small part, but if it’s something that triggers you, read with caution!

Overall, this book was a delight to read. The setting was stunning, the characters were complex and the writing flows so well. I can’t recommend Harley in the Sky enough. You will get lost in the beauty and magic of the circus!

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