Monday, May 30, 2011

The A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka

The A Circuit
The A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka

The blurb:
On the A Circuit, extremely privileged teens travel the country competing at the top level of horse showing.  At Pelham Lane Stables outside of New York City, the teen riders are some of the top competitors on the circuit.  Tommi, a billionaire heiress, and Kate, a working student, are serious about their riding.  So when Zara, the wild child of a famous rock star, descends on Pedham Lane, her antics (and trailing paparazzi) are not welcome.  And then there's the distraction of Fitz.  He's the barn's resident Casanova and he just wants Kate to give him a chance. But the real challenge comes when the drama on the ground starts spilling into the show ring!

The A Circuit takes us to the elite and privileged world of dressage, horses, and wealthy teens.  Pelham Lane Stables is one of the most elite riding stables in the country, and reputedly the best in the East Coast.   We follow the stories of the riders, who are mainly teenage girls, as they compete and work as a team to keep the stables running smoothly.

Through the eyes of three main characters, we share the drama, excitement and intrigue that goes on in  Pelham Lane Stables.   There's Tommi, the billionaire's daughter, whose seemingly perfect life has its own problems.  Her desire to prove her commitment to horses and riding and to carry this love and commitment to adulthood is one of the stronger conflicts of the book.  Her best friend Kate is a "working student" which means that in exchange for access to the horses and classes, Kate works at the stables.   This often means that the other riders often treat her like an employee and are dismissive of her knowledge and skills.  Though Kate's able to brush this off, stay focused, and enjoy riding and the horses.  The least likable and most tormented of the group is Zara, the rockstar's only child.   Since nearly every relationship and interaction she has is colored by her father's fame, she's gotten used to getting her own way.  Getting her own way hasn't always been good for her - but her love for horses and friends of her own may be a way to tame her.  There are other secondary characters - boys, the social climbers, parents, and Jamie, the owner and manager of the stables.  Jamie serves as a mentor to the girls - his handling of the difficult ones, equine and human, wins everyone's respect.

The A Circuit's super privilege and drama will likely appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and the Clique.  The book is a light, fun read.    I'm a bit embarrassed that part of what drew my attention was the author - Georgina Bloomberg.  Though this sort of attention is addressed by the characters  of The A Circuit  where she makes clear that the children of paparazzi level fame don't want to be reduced to extensions of their famous parents.  The author drew my attention, but I kept reading because of the characters themselves.   

Reading level: Ages 9-12
ISBN-10: 1599906341 - Paperback $9.99
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (May 24, 2011), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher

About the Authors:
Georgina Bloomberg is the younger daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  An accomplished equestrian, Georgina is on the board of directors of the Equestrian Aid Foundation, the Bloomberg Sisters Foundation, and the Bloomberg Family Foundation.  She is also the founder of the charity Rider's Closet, which collects used riding clothes for collegiate riding teams that are unable to afford them.  Georgina is a graduate of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Catherine Hapka has published many books for children and young adults, including some about horses. A lifelong horse lover, she rides several times per week and keeps three horses on her small farm in Pennsylvania.  In addition to writing and riding, she enjoys animals of all kinds, reading, gardening, music and travel.