"I'm not special."
"Don't you want to be?"
Micah thought about it for minute. "Doesn't everybody?"
Grandpa Ephraim chuckled. "I suppose. But some of us aren't brave enough to find our specialness, and some of us make mistakes along the way." Page 223
This is one of those holy smokes, that was a read! kind of book.
The power in magical realism is that it brings the reader into a closer awareness of the magic that bides in our everyday lives. Maybe it's not exactly the magic we read about in books, but it's there none the less.
The wonder that is Circus Mirandus, exists to help children find and believe in magic. At the same time, it might just be this belief that sustains it. When Micah's Grandpa Ephraim was young, he received an invitation to it. While he was there, the Lightbender offered him a miracle. Instead of taking it then, he asked if he could hold on to it. The Lightbender acquiesced.
If you had one miracle, what would you ask for?
Now that Grandpa Ephraim, is dying, he's written a letter requesting his miracle. It's up to Micah to make sure the Lightbender keeps his promise. The only thing is that it just might not be the miracle Micah thinks it is.
There is just so much love in this book. The love between Grandpa Ephraim and Micah is encapsulated in this conversation.
"I like to think," he (Grandpa Ephraim) said slowly, "that I could go one more time to Circus Mirandus. I like to think I have kept myself open enough to magic for that. But even if I can, I don't want to."
"Because when you try too hard to hold on to something, you break it." ... "Sometimes, we need to let go so that other people people can have their chance at the magic." page 221
Great Aunt Gertrudis, a stern woman, is visiting to look after Grandpa and Micah. She does her best to squelch their belief in magic. It's like she is trying to destroy the love between them at the same time.
Thankfully, Micah has a new friend, Jenny, a smart girl who manages to be there for him just when he needs her most. I love that because Micah believes, Jenny is ready to accept what Micah tells her about Circus Mirandus. Then when Micah is ready to give up, Jenny forces him to change his mind.
Micah and Grandpa Ephraim share a talent for tying knots. This capacity is what ties them together beyond a regular loving grandparent and grandchild relationship. Micah's gift, however, just might be more profound. He is able to capture the essence of an individual in his knots. When Micah gives Jenny a "friendship bracelet" with his own story and memories, we know that these two friends will be tied together across time and space no matter what.
What I liked about this book:
The writing is exquisite. From the get go I was beguiled and entranced. Look at this lead, "Four small words. That was all it took to set things in motion."
These characters are beautifully articulated. They are individuals you can believe in. They are people you can't help but love. In spite of her harshness, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Great Aunt Gertrudis. I kept wondering what happened to her and if she could be redeemed in any way.
I cried. This is what I want from a book, this kind of emotional investment that brings me to tears. The thing about this book is that I was completely caught off guard when it happened.
Diana Sudya's illustrations are the perfect foil for the story. They accentuate the glorious world that Beasley has manifested.
What I didn't like about this book:
It isn't long enough. Even at 292 pages, and a wholly satisfying ending, I wasn't ready to let go of this world and these characters. I sure hope there is a sequel or two.