Title: Flying Tips for Flightless Birds
Author: Kelly McCaughrain
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Teen/young adult fiction, Contemporary, Romantic comedy
Book format: Paperback
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Description: Twins Finch and Birdie Franconi are stars of the flying trapeze. But when Birdie suffers a terrifying accident, Finch must team up with the geeky new kid, Hector Hazard, to form an all-boys double act and save the family circus school.
Friendship, first love, freaking out…it’s a lot for two confused clowns to juggle. Can Finch face up to his feelings and take the most daring leap of all?

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  I loved this sweet and heartwarming story. Finch Franconi and his twin sister Birdie are trapeze stars at their own family’s circus, a circus which is in danger of being closed down. Despite problems at school they decide to hold a special performance, to save it, but when an accident threatens to end the twins double act, Finch has to find another way to rescue the place he loves.

This was such a lovely and charming story that I’m still smiling after reading it. Set in a small village in Northern Ireland the story begins with a blog post entry from Birdie (which also explains the title of the book) before moving onto the main story which is narrated by Finch throughout. I wasn’t sure if I’d get into the book at first, although it was easy to read. I wasn’t sure if the circus background was one I would click with and I wasn’t sure about the over the top stereotype look that Hector and some of the other characters had, but a few more pages into this and I began to enjoy it…So much so that soon I couldn’t put it down!

As the story continues we find out more about Finch and Birdie’s life at their family’s circus school and how hard it is for them to fit in at their regular school. I have to admit quite a bit of the story was predictable for me, especially the overall ending, but I still loved reading it, and Finch’s character is definitely one I grew to like. It becomes obvious early on that Finch not only struggles at school because of being part of the circus, but he also struggles because he is gay, and dresses in a way that makes him more of a target. Despite Finch’s struggles and his defensiveness, I liked the self confidence he has and it’s something many teens can relate to, wanting to be themselves. Birdie’s blog post entries happen at the start of several of the chapters and I liked reading these as they gave an insight into actual circus life as well as giving clues to what was happening in the main story.

There are some serious moments, like when Birdie has an accident, that can leave you feeling a bit emotional, but overall this book definitely has a romantic comedy vibe, with Finch’s friendship with Hector being both sweet and funny to read. I loved the way the two work on their double act, and the constant back and forth with Finch’s feelings and opinions on Hector, the arguing and conversations they have. I knew (or hoped I knew) how the story would end and I was so amazed and pleased with the way that it finished. It was a lovely and satisfying ending and it definitely got me in the heart it was so sweet.

There’s nothing dark in this story and barely any use of the s swear word. Overall the story is just a funny romantic contemporary which I think anyone will love reading. The story is predictable but at the same time it’s one I love because the whole circus/not fitting in theme is one I and so many teenagers can relate to. I’d definitely recommend this book and want to read it again which I always see as the mark of a brilliant novel!

-Review first published June 2018 – now republished here.

What do you think of this book?  What books have you enjoyed reading that feature the circus or issues where a character doesn’t feel they fit in?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂