Friday, 14 March 2014

Review: Hope Is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera

Publisher: Abrams
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: March 11th, 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Amazon summary:

Ten-year-old Star Mackie has just moved to a new town where she lives in a trailer park with her flakey mum and her melancholy older sister, Winter, whom she idolises. Moving to a new town, coupled with Star's unusual fashion sense and layered blue hair, has made it difficult for her to make friends, so Star decides to start her own club at school. Initially named the "Trailer Park Club" in order to teach other students about the positive aspects of living in a trailer park, the (very small) group evolves into a poetry club where Star discovers a love of Emily Dickinson and through Emily's poetry, learns some important lessons about herself and her own hopes and dreams for the future.


Hope Is a Ferris Wheel is a lovely middle grade read, about ten-year-old Star Mackie and her family. Star is a wonderful narrator who immediately captured my heart, and her outlook on the world is one to aspire to. Full of hope for life and for the world in general, Star sees things differently to others and has to cope with more than she should at such a young age. She's a fantastic character and one who I'm glad to have met.

Having just moved to a new place, Star, along with her mum and older sister Winter, are living in a trailer park. Star's fellow school students all ridicule her for her living arrangements and strange mullet hair (it's actually a layered cut, thank you very much), but she doesn't let them get in the way of what she wants. Instead she starts a trailer park club that quickly evolves into an Emily Dickinson club, which is where Star first discovers a love of poetry.

Star's older sister Winter is another character I fell in love with. She's fifteen and moody, quiet and withdrawn, navigating teenage life as best she can. She's growing up in a somewhat broken family, asking questions about her absent dad and helping to parent Star when their mum is too busy. She's a strong girl, able to deal with anything life throws at her and not be ashamed of who she is. She has her own problems too, of course, but she never let's herself be beaten.

This story says a lot about life and how we can be quick to judge people. It's a lesson in tolerance and kindness, showing that even people who live in trailer parks need friends and people who care about them. Luckily Star finds her place and people to share her time with, but that isn't the case for everyone in real life. I wish it were, and I hope that this book might show middle grade readers the right way to treat their peers.

Hope Is a Ferris Wheel is one of those books that's unflinchingly real, charming and made to be shared. It's an exploration of families and family life, how we all have different situations but ultimately all want the same things. Mostly it's about a ten-year-old girl finding her place in what can be an unfair world, and realising that life really is what you make it. Star and Winter Mackie make this book a must-read, and they're two fictional people who will stay in my mind for a long time to come.

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