Title: Girl on the Ferris Wheel
Authors: Julie Halpern, Len Vlahos
Published by: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: January 12th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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?
I really enjoyed reading Len’s previous book Hard-Wired, so when I saw that he co-wrote another YA novel, I was very excited about this touching, realistic, and sweet story.
Girl on the Ferris Wheel gives us two alternating POVs. Dmitri and Eliana come from very different backgounds and have very different personalities. Quiet, insecure Eliana has four other siblings and a stay-at-home dad, whose DVD rental store went out of business, while Dmitri is a second generation American Greek with a close-knit family, trying to integrate into American life and at the same time keep their distinct culture. Dmitri is a drummer in a band and a movie buff. He is also friendly and outgoing, which helps him to navigate high school social life with a lot of confidence and ease.
One of the best things about this book is that it provides a realistic representation of what it’s like to live with clinical depression and what it’s like to love and support a person with it. Eliana was briefly hospitalised and when she came back to school she found hersef almost isolated as a lot of her friends decided it was too complicated and awkward to be around her. Eliana’s struggle with her depression is written in a heart-breakingly honest way. Her inner dialogue is fascinating, with some hilarious runaway comments on what is happening at the moment and some dark moments with repetitive self-depreciating thought patterns.
It was interesting to see both perspectives on Eliana and Dmitri’s relationship with all the excitement and ups and lows of figuring out the other side’s feelings and opinions. Depending on your own experience, you might find one of the characters more or less relatable, but they are definitely realistic and memorable, and both of them go through a lot of growth and development. There is a wonderful cast of secondary characters, including Eliana’s best friend Janina, Dmitri’s surprisingly perceptive younger brother Niki, and adorable grandmother Yia Yia.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was the abundance of Happy Potter references, although I appreciate that being able to get and relate to well-known references (or the opposite, some obscure movie quotes) is a way of establishing a connection, finding your own tribe, which is a part of teen life.
I would definitely recommend this book. First romantic relationships aren’t easy because we still need to learn the importance of communication, but they are also exciting and genuine- like this book.
Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours, NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends for the review copy. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.
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.
GIVEAWAY (ends Jan 21st):
Tour-wide giveaway (US only)
- Paperback copy of Girl on the Ferris wheel
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If you would like to see what other bloggers thought of the book, here is the full blog tour schedule:
–The Avid Reader >> Excerpt
–What Irin Reads >> Review
–The Phantom Paragrapher >> Review
–My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews >> Review
–The Book View >> Interview
–Rockin’ Book Reviews >> Guest post