This is the second book by Kimberly Duffy that I’ve read and enjoyed! Read on for details on this heartfelt story about circus performers, family, grief, and love. Also, check out my review on her book that I loved, Every Word Unsaid.
In 1911, Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman and has performed beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus her entire life. But at his unexpected death, she loses everything she’s ever known and sets off in the company of acrobat Jake Cunningham for America in hope of finding the mother she’s just discovered is still alive.
Isabella Moreau, the nation’s most feted aerialist, has given everything to the circus. But age and injury now threaten her security, and Isabella, stalked by old fears, makes a choice that risks everything. When her daughter Mabel appears alongside the man who never wanted to see Isabella again, Isabella is forced to face the truth of where, and in what, she derives her worth.
In this evocative novel from Kimberly Duffy, the meaning of strength takes center stage as the lives of three circus performers become entangled beneath the glittering lights and flying trapeze of Madison Square Garden.
Kimberly Duffy is a great storyteller. She really took me inside of the circus in ways I’ve never been before, and she develops characters with really deep feelings.
Mabel is a character I just wanted to jump in and hug. She’s so insecure and unsure of everything in life after losing both parents. She’s clearly strong physically, but in all other areas of life, she could use some help.
Isabella has some of the same exact problems, just in different ways. She doesn’t see her worth as a person at all as she gets older and closer to being unable to perform as an acrobat. Her identity is acrobat, and there’s nothing without it.
So, we have mother and daughter both in crisis, and they need each other’s support immensely. However, when Mabel arrives at their chance meeting in New York, it’s not all immediate joy. In fact, much of the drama in this book begins there, as Mabel and Isabella attempt to come back together as mother and daughter in supportive roles, and Jake tries to figure out his own ghosts and needs.
I actually think Jake was my favorite character. He suffered some serious trauma, and seeing him navigate through all of those feelings was pretty powerful.
Overall, I enjoyed The Weight of Air. I do think it was a tad long, and there were just a few too many references to strength, but I would still recommend it to anyone who’s interested in historical fiction, a circus theme, a little romance, and tasteful Christianity (just a little God 🙂). I really fell in love with the characters and was invested in their success, and my heart did a little happy dance at the end.