Authors: Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka
Published: Bloomsbury, 2011
Genre: Realistic fiction
Cover Score: B
Overall Grade: A-
On the A-circuit, talented teenage equestrians travel the country competing at top levels of horse showing, in the hopes of winning prestige and glory. At Pelham Lane Stables outside of New York City, the teen riders are some of the best competing on the circuit. Tommi, a billionaire heiress, and Kate, a working student are serious about their riding. So when party girl Zara Trask, daughter of a famous rock star, shows up at Pelham Lane in a wake of drama and attitude from LA, she is not welcome. Then there's Fitz, the barn's resident Casanova, who just wants Kate to give him a chance. But for these girls, who all want to prove themselves, the real challenge will be when the drama from the real world spills into the show ring!
My thoughts: As an equestrian who competes on the A-circuit herself, I was pleasantly surprised and satisfied by Ms. Bloomberg's debut in young adult fiction. The author's account of the elite level of horseback riding is accurate (although a bit more melodramatic), and she doesn't try to gloss over the less-glamorous aspects of the sport, giving the reader a good understanding of all of the work, sweat, and tears that are part of the horse world.
All three main characters were well-developed and had a good background story: party animal Zara is sick of living under her famous father's shadow, working-girl Kate is trying to make a name for herself despite her self-doubt, and Tommi wants to prove that she is more than her father's money. It was interesting to see how each girl struggled with her personal problems, attempting to solve them, as the plot progressed. The book itself was fast-paced, and I whipped through the chapters, eagerly seeing what was next.
For girls who love horses and enjoy books like Gossip Girl, The A-Circuit is perfect. While I was expecting a Clique-like novel filled chock-full with mean girls, catfights, and tension, I was pleasantly surprised by how I could relate to all 3 of the girls, and the bonds between them and their teammates, their horses. There was still a level of privilege and social drama, but it only made the plot more interesting and juicier
However, I was expecting more action from the novel, and was a bit disappointed by the abrupt ending (I felt that it needed more closure). Nevertheless, Ms. Bloomberg has the makings of a great series on her hands--she has set up conflicts and left me with questions that I am excited to see answered in future books. All in all, I can't wait for more fast-paced action, suspense, and romance.