Kids have been picking on 14-year-old Harold ever since he can remember. They stare at him and call him "maggot" or "ghost boy" because he's an albino. Even his mother seems angry and withdrawn when he's around.One day the circus comes to town, and Harold runs away to join it. When Fossil Man and Princess Minikin accept him into their family, he feels that he has at long last come home. As he gains the respect of the circus owner and the beautiful trick horseback rider, Harold suddenly finds himself straddling the line between the normal people and the "freaks." If only he could figure out the omniscient Gypsy Magda's warning about the high price of being "normal".Iain Lawrence builds an insightful metaphor with this story of a teenager facing his fear of being an outsider. Narrator George Guidall is the perfect guide for readers as they join Harold on his poignant journey toward self-discovery and acceptance.More
"The setting is wonderfully realized and captures the magic of the big top and the decidedly different world behind the scenes. This touching novel will speak especially to readers who consider themselves different, flawed, or misunderstood." (School Library Journal)
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There are plenty of good stories about teenagers who don't fit it and carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. This is another, but carefully selected characters and a credible sense of the cruel reality of a failing circus where nothing is real, just show and deception make this story stand out. Combine this with a sensitive portrayal of albinism, a condition I never realised came with such hardship, and the pervading sense of human dignity and the meaning of its loss and you have a tale that stands out from the crowd.
I was a little unsure about the choice of narrator when the reading started, an older voice rather than younger, but it was the right decision by the editors. It fits the mood of the story and lends a strength to some of the adult characters that might otherwise have been missing.
Thouroughly recommended. The 11-13 age recommendation seems to me a little young and certainly a little resricted. This is a story all can enjoy and most can learn something from.
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