Publication Date: January 12, 2022
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Lena, Theo, and Alexandre were definitely soulmates - if not for the events in the story, surely something else would have led them to each other.
The difference in the characters from the beginning of the book to the end was amazing. Life on the circus train was practically its own character. While Lena and Alexandre enter the story as children, their story lines also left them exceptionally vulnerable. Lena barely escaped with her life from Polio as a baby. She spent her childhood on the circus train in a wheelchair and being coddled by Theo, her tutor, and the train's doctor. Alexandre was found as a stowaway on the circus train with just his Jewish passport to identify him. Their relationship truly evolved to save and bring out the best in them both.
Theo was a talented performer, but his true motivation was protecting Lena and presenting the best life possible for her. His plan for this included Lena nearly always being under his direct supervision, so he could limit any risks to her health and safety.
Theo's dedication to protecting Lena and Alexandre is what causes them to be torn apart. Their lives end up on a vastly different path than any of them initially imagined, and the changes are scary and difficult for all of them. In part, it is again their lasting love and loyalty to each other that lends them the courage to continue through horrifying circumstances and strive to reunite.
Since finishing this book and thinking a little more about it, my rating increased a bit. There's an amazing plot twist presented at the end, and it has me re-thinking a lot of earlier pivotal points in the story. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction, circus stories, and WWII time stories that don't focus exclusively on the war.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my electronic copy of this book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my review.