Title: Side Show
Word Count: 69,000
Genre: YA Literary
For fourteen years Josie’s life was made up of her father’s drunken nights of gambling until the price of his failure becomes the loss of her freedom. Josie is taken from her home and swept into the world of the circus in 1926 where her previously weird talent of extreme flexibility is used to make her a great contortionist and travel America with her stage "sister" Sara.
As their friendship grows, Sara and Josie develop a Rag Doll show where Josie learns to move her body in ways that she never imagined possible. Their performance becomes the top earner of the Side Show and Josie finally feels like she’s found a home in the spotlight and applause.
Surrounded by other Side Show workers including a Strong Man, Romanian fortune teller, shady management and dedicated workhands, Josie learns the powerful force of love and destruction of hate and greed. But through her performances and time among the other Side Show workers Josie begins to, for the first time, look forward to her future.
When Sara and Josie decide to leave the Side Show to start a life of their own, Josie is faced with learning about the importance of family, not by blood but of spirit. She discovers that home isn’t a place but the people you consider family, a lesson she has to learn before she loses everything and everyone she loves to the wonder of the Side Show.
By the age of fourteen Josie knew more than most, at least about the things that mattered in the world.
For example, because of all the nights she had watched her papa lose at poker, she knew when a man was lying. Her papa, Warren, never purposely lost, but he lost on a regular basis nonetheless. Josie also knew the exact moment, down to the specific swig off of a bottle, when a man went from laughing about life to hating the world. Josie’s wisdom came from her ability to stay quiet and not be noticed which was mostly due to her age. She had learned that the looks men gave each other when they thought no one was looking were the ones that really mattered.
She had found by experience that men were shifty in nature when they looked a person straight on. At least the ones that Josie had been around were. They played games with their eyes, trying to sell a man a line or a story. And with a woman they’d try to sell a pretty picture of life or the promise of pleasure, depending on the nature of the woman and the intent of the man.
None of that mattered though, Josie discovered. None of it. Because what a man told you when he didn’t notice you was more than he could ever say with his words when he did.