Review: The A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka

 

Title: The A Circuit

Author: Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

ISBN: 978-1599906348

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The A Circuit is the top of the top when it comes to horse shows. It’s a world with its own rules and superprivileged lifestyles. Teens travel the circuit all year, showing horses that cost as much as some homes.

Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all elite competitors on the circuit, but they come from totally different backgrounds. Tommi is a billionaire heiress trying to prove she has real talent (not just deep bank accounts). Kate puts the working in working student-every win has been paid for with hours of cleaning stalls. She’s used to the grueling schedule, but Fitz, the barn’s resident hot guy, is about to become a major distraction. And then there’s Zara. She’s the wild child of a famous rockstar, but she’s ready to take riding seriously. Can a party girl really change her ways?

Readers who enjoy peeking into the elite world of Gossip Girl or The A-List will feel right at home in this new series with its friendships, drama, and privilege set against the backdrop of competitive horseback riding.

Review:

Warning – Very long and rambling post; my apologies

It seems like I have waited forever to read this book!  When I first saw it, with that pretty horse on the cover, all shiny clean, wearing show tack, and ready to put on a show, I wanted to read it, even though I am usually disappointed by books with horses.  Most of them have left me underwhelmed, because the horse facts are wrong.  Before I had horses, that never bothered me. I read horse stories all the time, and loved them.  Now, in my life with horses, I don’t enjoy them as much, because most of the time, they don’t feel authentic.  I know that Georgina Bloomberg shows competitively, so I had high hopes for this book. Probably too high!  But I enjoyed it so much!

First off, this book is soap opera with horses.  If you don’t like horses, think they stink, can’t imagine shoveling their poop, The A Circuit is probably not for you.  Most of the action takes place at the show grounds or the barn, with minimal time spent elsewhere.  When the characters aren’t at the barn, they want to be at the barn.  That feeling certainly resonated with me!

Told through alternating points of view, the story focuses on three teens: Tommi, Zara, and Kate.  Tommi and Zara come from money, while Kate, the daughter of a cop, has had to work day and night for the opportunity to ride.  She doesn’t have a horse, but she is able to show the barn owner’s string, or catch ride for clients.  I liked Kate.  I felt for Kate.  I understood Kate.  Horses are like a drug.  When you aren’t around them, they are all you think about.  Chilling at the barn, forging that bond between yourself and an animal that weighs half a ton and could stomp the life out of you if it got a burr up its butt.  Why do we work ourselves to the bone to experience this rewarding, though occasionally unnerving pursuit?  I have no idea, but if I ever figure it out, I will write up a post about it.

Zara rubbed me the wrong way, and I wanted to beat her with a riding whip or strangle her with a lead rope.  Which ever was closer would have worked.  She has no respect for anyone, including herself.  She is out of control, and she takes her anger out on everyone, including her horses.  She doesn’t beat them, she is just very rough and demanding with them.  It made me angry.  The general rule is ask for a little, reward a lot, but this is a foreign concept to Zara.  She has no discipline, and I wonder why she rides at all.  She wants to ride and train on her terms, and she should have been sent packing the first time she put a horse in harm’s way.  But no, money talks just as loudly in the horse world as it does anywhere else.  Unfortunately.

Both Tommi and Zara take their horses for granted.  Both of their fathers pick up their training and show tabs with nary a fuss.  Tommi, at least, is trying to think of a way to keep doing the horsey thing after she finishes high school, despite her family’s insistence that she attend a prestigious college and get a high profile job.  That’s just not her thing.  I admired her drive to find a way to pay her own way, and was even more intrigued with her self-doubts.  Was she good enough to train a horse capable of showing on the A circuit?  Her self-confidence takes a beating, and I am so curious to see how she progresses – really hoping for a sequel for this!

Without spoiling anything, I was so disappointed with both Tommi and Kate when they are involved, indirectly, in a display of blatant stupidity that injures a horse.  That is so not cool!  Their silence was painful for me, and they both took the easy way out of a difficult situation.  To me, they didn’t learn from a mistake that could have gotten someone killed.  You can’t goof off around horses; their size makes them dangerous if you aren’t paying attention.  I get a little sick when I think back on that scene in the book. So senseless and such a waste, and nobody has proved to me that they learned a darned thing from it!

The A Circuit was everything that I had hoped for, and more.  It is a soap opera set in a barn, with a group of angsty teens and their horses in starring roles.  Their little dramas kept me engaged in the story, and the show scenes made me wish I was at the fairgrounds. 

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher