I’m back with a blog tour with Xpresso Tours for Girl on the Ferris Wheel by Julie Halpern and Len Vlahos. Thanks to Feiwel & Friends for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the other bloggers on tour!
Also, don’t forget to enter the GIVEWAY (US) at the end of my post!
Goodreads: Girl on the Ferris Wheel
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: 12 January 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Romance
In Girl on the Ferris Wheel, Julie Halpern and Len Vlahos expertly tackle this quirky and poignant romance that explores what first love really means—and how it sometimes hurts like hell.
Tenth graders Eliana and Dmitri could not be more different. He’s an outgoing, self-confident drummer in a punk band called Unexpected Turbulence. Eliana is introspective and thoughtful, and a movie buff who is living with depression. Dmitri quite literally falls for Eliana when he sees her in gym class and slams into a classmate. The pair then navigate the ins and outs of first love. Exciting, scary, unexpected, and so much more difficult than they ever imagined. They say opposites attract, but they soon realize that there is so much they just don’t understand about each other. It begs the question: How long can first love possibly last when you’re so different?
Julie Halpern is the award-winning author of seven young adult novels, one novel for adults, and one picture book for young readers. In her imaginary spare time she enjoys traveling, making cosplay for her kids, and eating baked goods. Julie lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, and their two children.
Len Vlahos dropped out of NYU film school in the mid ’80s to play guitar and write songs for Woofing Cookies, a punk-pop four piece that toured up and down the East Coast, and had two singles and one full-length LP on Midnight Records. After the band broke up, he followed his other passion, books. He is the author of The Scar Boys, a William C. Morris Award finalist and a #1 Indie Next pick, and Scar Girl, the book’s sequel. Len lives in Denver with his wife and two young sons, where he owns the Tattered Cover Book Store.
TL;DR: This was a fast and read that leans more towards the younger audience of the YA genre. It shares a realistic take on the highs and lows of teenage life including navigating the treachery of high school and experiencing the cute-awkward moments of first love. I thought it had a good mental health rep for anxiety and depression in a young adult. I didn’t connect as much with Dimitri & Eliana as I hoped to, but theirs was a genuine story with funny moments and plenty of pop culture references (especially of HP)!
The Girl on the Ferris Wheel was a realistic YA contemporary about high school life, first love, culture and family. It also has good representation for anxiety and depression especially through the lens of a young adult. There were some pretty sombre and raw moments with Eliana’s depression that were heartbreaking and hard-hitting but I thought it accurately represented what it’s like living with mental illness, at the same time without being overwhelming particularly for the younger audience this book is targeted to. Through Dimitri and Eliana’s story, the authors perfectly highlight the highs and lows that come as part of the teenage package. They capture that blend of cynicism and hope, and a sometimes endearing and sometimes irritating brashness of character, but also the sweet and funnily awkward moments between friends, first loves, and family.
As I’m not the target audience for this book, I personally had a difficult time also fully connecting with Dimitri and Eliana–there were certainly relatable moments but I swung between liking them and finding them frustrating throughout the read. Eliana, in particular, was a character I’d hoped to connect with more especially as someone who has experienced the same mental health issues from that age, but frankly, she was mean and I found her bitterness (mainly towards her dad) quite scathing. I really liked Dimitri’s big Greek family. Does it feed into the stereotype of conservative, loud and rambunctious Greek families portrayed in the media? A little bit, yeah, but in contrast to Eliana’s toned-down family interactions, Dimitri’s family brought such life to the page and it was so refreshing. I especially loved his Yia Yia and his younger brother, Nicky, and I wished we got much more time with those two because they were so loveable!
Eliana and Dimitri’s relationship, a first for both of them, played a central role in the story and it really threw me back to the awkward firsts of my own high school relationships–the first date, first kiss, first time holding hands, first butterflies and heart swoops full of nervous excitement. 😂 Ah, good (ish) times! These two definitely had their sweet moments that had me going ‘aw’ but at the same time, most of my frustration was a result of their relationship due to a lack of communication, as well as how these two (re)act. I won’t go into details because that leads to spoiler territory, but I’ll say that while I did become irritated with these two, I knew I was observing them through my current (older) lense and the more I thought about it I realised that I probably would’ve reacted similarly in certain instances when I was a teenager. Ultimately, despite a lot of teenage drama, angst and heartbreak, I was quite happy with how the story ended for both our characters. It brought a happy sense of peace and contentment and I thought it was the perfect way to end the story.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY (US) TO WIN A (PB) COPY OF GIRL ON THE FERRIS WHEEL!
GIVEAWAY ENDS 21 JANUARY!
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Have you read Girl on the Ferris Wheel or is it on your TBR?