We Walked the Sky

By: Lisa Fiedler

In 1965 seventeen-year-old Victoria, having just escaped an unstable home, flees to the ultimate place for dreamers and runaways—the circus. Specifically, the VanDrexel Family Circus where, among the lion tamers, roustabouts, and trapeze artists, Victoria hopes to start a better life.

Fifty years later, Victoria’s sixteen-year-old granddaughter Callie is thriving. A gifted and focused tightrope walker with dreams of being a VanDrexel high wire legend just like her grandmother, Callie can’t imagine herself anywhere but the circus. But when Callie’s mother accepts her dream job at an animal sanctuary in Florida just months after Victoria’s death, Callie is forced to leave her lifelong home behind.

Feeling unmoored and out of her element, Callie pores over memorabilia from her family’s days on the road, including a box that belonged to Victoria when she was Callie’s age. In the box, Callie finds notes that Victoria wrote to herself with tips and tricks for navigating her new world. Inspired by this piece of her grandmother’s life, Callie decides to use Victoria’s circus prowess to navigate the uncharted waters of public high school.

Across generations, Victoria and Callie embrace the challenges of starting over, letting go, and finding new families in unexpected places.

ISBN: 9780451480804

JLG Release: Oct 2019


Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking, Domestic abuse
Topics: Circuses , Aerialists , Tightrope walking , Change , Family life , Coming of age , Multigenerational stories , Historical romance , Mothers and daughters , Friendship , Animal sanctuaries , Wildlife refuges

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

Calliope VanDrexel is a 16-year-old circus performer who loves her grandmother Victoria and the tightrope that allows her to walk the sky. Her days as an aerialist come to an abrupt halt when her grandmother dies and her mother, Quinn, moves their small family to an animal sanctuary. Callie is forced to live with a mother she doesn’t understand a Calliope VanDrexel is a 16-year-old circus performer who loves her grandmother Victoria and the tightrope that allows her to walk the sky. Her days as an aerialist come to an abrupt halt when her grandmother dies and her mother, Quinn, moves their small family to an animal sanctuary. Callie is forced to live with a mother she doesn’t understand and learn to navigate the social hierarchy in high school. Her only comforts are the cryptic notes found in her grandmother’s old jewelry box and the new unexpected friendships she makes. These notes and her friends help Callie begin to find the balance between loving what was lost and embracing what can be. The dual narratives of Victoria’s and Callie’s experiences is well paced and operates as a time line tying the past to the future. The characters under the big top are larger-than-life, and the relationship between Victoria and the circus family shines. Both Callie’s relationship with her mother and her lack of social awareness are believably depicted. Teens who have ever felt out of place will relate to this character. Unfortunately, the ending of the story remains unresolved. Good historical fiction with a solid narrative, this title is perfect for school and public libraries.

Horn Book

In 1965, a sixteen-year-old girl escapes her abusive father by running away with the VanDrexel traveling circus. Fifty years later, that runaway—Victoria—is train-ing her talented, driven, teenage granddaughter, Callie VanDrexel, to become a premier tightrope walker. Then Victoria dies unexpectedly; the circus gives up its exotic animal acts; a In 1965, a sixteen-year-old girl escapes her abusive father by running away with the VanDrexel traveling circus. Fifty years later, that runaway—Victoria—is train-ing her talented, driven, teenage granddaughter, Callie VanDrexel, to become a premier tightrope walker. Then Victoria dies unexpectedly; the circus gives up its exotic animal acts; and Callie’s mother, the circus’s animal specialist, gets a new job at a Florida animal sanctuary, dragging a sullen, grieving Callie with her. In alternating chapters, dual story lines follow plucky young Victoria’s introduction to life with the circus and Callie’s introduction to life without it. Victoria’s tale is atmospheric and absorbing: circus life is beguiling, the welcoming performers have intriguing backstories, and a dashing VanDrexel lion tamer proves irresist-ible. Callie’s narrative isn’t as vivid, but her reluctant struggle to form relation-ships outside the circus feels raw and honest. A jewelry box containing Victoria’s collected advice nimbly ties the two narratives together: as young Victoria jots down bits of circus wisdom (“When in doubt, juggle”), Callie finds guidance in her grandmother’s words. This multigenerational story speaks compellingly and warmly of the power of family members—both given and chosen—to support, protect, and lift one another higher than any could reach alone.

Book Details

ISBN

9780451480804

First Release

October 2019

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Page Count

304

Accelerated Reader

Level 0; Points: 0;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;

Lexile

Level

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Razorbill

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking, Domestic abuse

Topics

Circuses, Aerialists, Tightrope walking, Change, Family life, Coming of age, Multigenerational stories, Historical romance, Mothers and daughters, Friendship, Animal sanctuaries, Wildlife refuges,

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Cover Art

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