Fontaine’s stories are quite engaging, which makes up for the fact that the book seems to skip around quite a bit. However, the back and forth gives readers insight into Fontaine’s deeper emotions, emotions that are often on the surface of this book. Fontaine uses emotional vocabulary throughout the book to describe her worries and hopes, which I appreciate tremendously. It is one of the reasons I’m often drawn to memoirs, as I love to hear people’s emotions about their real life experiences.
Fontaine tells two primary stories in her book: the story of her joining a carnival show and the story of her mother’s journey through recovery from a stroke. Each story is peppered with descriptions that took me on a journey along with her, experiencing smells, sights, and the textures of her world. Her journey with the sideshow shows her new tricks she never thought she’d be a part of, and she both loves and hates every minute of it.
Fontaine’s honesty about the necessity of pain and moving through fear by accepting the pain is the major theme to her story. Fontaine is constantly thinking about her place in the world with regards to everyone else. She wonders what it would like to be in others’ shoes, and wonders if she’s good enough to hold up to the test of being part of a grueling sideshow with very little pay and intense physical labor for long hours each day. Each day, no matter how she’s feeling, she faces her fears and pushes through the pain because she’s agreed to herself to make it though the carnival season.
Fontaine explores a lot of her relationships with other sideshow employees, the audience, and her family throughout this book. She is open and honest about things she does well and things she feels like she didn’t do well. I enjoy that kind of perspective about relationships, and again I find that is often an element of memoirs and why I am drawn to them.
For some reason, this book took me a while to get into, but as Fontaine started picking up the pace with her work, I found myself picking up the pace in my own reading. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a little danger and adventure.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.