Monday, August 04, 2008

[Book Review] FREAKS: ALIVE, ON THE INSIDE by Annette Curtis Klause

Fiction/Young Adult

Andrea Bledsoe reviews FREAKS: ALIVE, ON THE INSIDE by Annette Curtis Klause (Simon and Schuster, 2006)

Although this book is shelved in Young Adult fiction, older readers may like it. I enjoyed the story of Abel Dandy and his pal, Apollo. Abel's parents perform in the circus. His father is legless and his mother is armless. It's 1899 and such people were considered “freaks” by most people. But, because Abel grew up in the circus, people with such abnormalities did not faze him. The Dandys travel from city to city by train with other members of the sideshow, and over the years the group has become like family. Abel loves and respects his extended family but feels he needs to branch out and explore the world beyond the circus.

Ironically, Abel runs away but ends up on a train housing another traveling circus. Dr. Mink, owner of Mink’s Marvels, is a cruel and abusive boss and circus owner. The months away from his family are hard on 17 year-old Abel but teach him plenty of life lessons.

I originally chose this book to present to a meeting of teen services librarians. If I had children of my own, I would be a little reluctant for them to read this particular title. It is very sexually graphic and violent in some parts. But, on the flip side, the author emphasizes to all her readers that even though we all have differences, we all are alive and human on the inside!

Andrea Bledsoe, Poplar-White Station Library

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