The A Circuit by Catherine Hapka, Georgina Bloomberg
May 24, 2011; Bloomsbury USA
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.(courtesy of Goodreads)
The A Circuit takes us into the world of one of the most elite and expensive sports: showing horses. Think of this book as an equine Gossip Girl, but not quite as dirty. Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all elite teenage riders, each from different backgrounds. Tommi is the daughter of zillionare corporate guru, Kate is working class and gets free stable time by caring for the horses, Zara is the daughter of a rock star and up and coming bad girl.
I liked how the story was told from the alternating points of view of Tommi, Kate, and Zara. Tommi is obviously modeled after the author, Georgina Bloomberg. Even their names are similar. Tommi comes off as a little spoiled, resentful of her father's reluctance to take her riding seriously, but she is also a hard working rider and down to earth. She is nice to those "lower" than her, but not blissfully kind to everyone. Overall, she's a very sympathetic character. Not a huge amount of depth, but I liked her. Kate, the poor girl, is well written. We learn about her troubled home life, her insecurity, her love for horses, her work ethic, and her romantic interests. I particularly liked the descriptions of her mother's OCD. It felt a bit forced at times, but it was a really interesting topic and made Kate's life more layered. Zara is the hardest girl to like. She does horrible things. She's not only spoiled, but she is arrogant and mean. Seeing the world through her eyes made me like her a little bit, because you see her love for riding and her irritation at being in the spotlight. But even her inner mind was conceited. I feel like future books will flesh out her character better.
If you don't know anything about horses, you'll probably be lost at times in The A Circuit. Equine terms are flung about like mud during a stampede. I am one of those people who knows nothing about horses. The new vocabulary didn't bother me though. It was like reading a book set in China. The foreign terms helped set the scene. The book does a wonderful job of making horse shows and horses more appealing. I spent several hours after reading this book looking through equine websites. I loved being transported to a different world.
I would categorize The A Circuit as Gossip Girl Light. However, I wish there'd been a little more name dropping of fashion designs. There was some, but clothes are one of the main things that attract me to the GGL books. There is a decent amount of swearing, alcohol, and sex in this book. I wish there had been less. It was nothing shocking, but if the book had been a little cleaner, it would be great for a young YA crowd. It has a young feel to it, that I think might be tiresome to older YA but the content may not be appropriate for a general junior high crowd.
The A Circuit was a quick, easy, fun read. There's not a lot of depth to it, but I wasn't looking for that when I picked it up. There aren't enough YA horse books and this book does a great job of introducing the equine world. I will definitely keep reading this series.