This is the tale of a young girl of sixteen, one who has taken it into her head that there’s more to life than what her family has brought her up to become. It’s a tale of growing up, of love and loss, of Gaji and Gypsy, of fitting in and being left out, of life and change, of applause and tears.
The book is voiced by the headstrong Bertha, whose cordial (and perceptive) view of life gives zest to this coming-of-age story. With her simple language and seemingly provincial accent, this girl whisks you along with her as she dreams of changing her basket of eggs for a nomadic life with a bunch of leotard-wearing talents.
Oh, have I mentioned that this story is set in 1843, with a backdrop of sequined outfits, cotton candy and circus people?
Behind Bertha’s words, there is more than just scenery of what goes on in the Big Top. There’s also a hint of friendship and betrayal, a dash of love and joy, and a sprinkling of suspicions and trust. While the book seems to be a simple circus story, you will find good friends, mistrusted family members, mother-like fortune-tellers, strong partners, ferocious animals and a whole bunch of personalities, each unique in their own way. Oh, and let us not forget the main star of them all: the mighty, humble, loving elephant (taken care of by the dashing boss handler, of course).
With Inzared, you’ll inhale the fresh grass while you tread tirely towards the next town. With Inzared, you’ll see the blue sky as you attempt to do hand-stands on a bareback horse. With Inzared, you’ll, at breakfast, mingle with people who mesmerize you with their amazing tricks with lions, tigers and bears. With Inzared, you’ll dance to the merry tunes of the age-old traditions that still govern the ceremonies of the Gypsy.
With Inzared, you’ll behold so much joy, wondering if you’ll ever experience sadness.
Get ready to up your vocabulary in circus speak, because you may come across a number of casually spoken trouper words. (I can’t quite get over “dukie box”!) This story is also quite realistic in its own sense, though it does echo a kind of supernatural vibe here and there. (But hey, what’s a circus without its mystery and unfathomable tradition, yes?) I loved the depth into Gypsy lore – it’s really quite mesmerizing and exotic to the modern eye.
While the story is cohesive enough, it is not too deep. You can read through this, have a bite or two to think about, but in the end, probably consider it light-hearted young adult fiction. Quite tastefully written, with words carefully chosen. A sequel is also wanting!
Grab your best blouse, wear your blue silk scarf, and get ready for the inviting smell of popcorn (maybe with a pink lemonade?). Now, who’s up for a good show at the circus?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars