This sweet coming-of-age story by Lori Alden Holuta is the second installment of stories dealing with the fictional land of Industralia (the first being the short-story The Steamkettle Kids Save The Day). In a number of ways, this outing is superior to the other works of Miss Holuta’s that have been reviewed so far – which is to be expected (it is, after all, approximately ten times longer).
Miss Holuta uses that extra space to focus on the development of her characters – and her main character. The reader becomes acquainted with Constance quickly. From there, no matter who she might run into or whatever she might face, there is no doubt that this is her story. The depth of care that Miss Holuta invests in her writing pays huge dividends, too. Whether one is prowling the bookstore with Constance after hours, knee deep in circus life, riding alongside a new friend on a junk wagon, or booking a one-way ticket to a new home, the twists and turns are developed nicely and insure the reader wants to find out what happens next.
One criticism of the story itself is that the plot (at times) moves a bit too smoothly. Constance almost always seems to have help at hand exactly when she needs it – which might be off-putting to some. Still, the imagery and the characters bring to mind recent movies such as Big Fish and Dumbo. I can almost see Constance spinning the tale as a yarn that is mostly true (and that glosses over the rougher bits of her tale). Even were this not the case and the story happened just as it is presented, this is a fine story for young adults – or a not-so-young adult searching for a bit of wonder and a pick-me-up in the here and now.