Official Review: Mama is gonna take you to the circus

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inaramid
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Official Review: Mama is gonna take you to the circus

Post by inaramid » 11 Feb 2019, 05:11

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Mama is gonna take you to the circus" by Ameera Almousa.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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One of the happiest memories of my childhood is getting to see the circus when it came to our town. It was thus a joy and a privilege to revisit this wonder-filled place in Ameera Almousa’s Mama Is Gonna Take You to the Circus. As the “Mama” in the title, Almousa takes readers on a guided imaginary tour of the circus and all the attractions within, with each element reframed as a metaphor about growing up and living one's life.

Our “amazing circus sojourn” starts with the queue. There’s the obvious lesson in patience here, but Almousa cleverly transforms this mundane experience into an allegory about having a sense of direction (Are you in the right queue?), owning your dreams, and following your passion. The succeeding sections cover other circus acts (e.g., the clown, the acrobat) and attractions (e.g., carousel, animal show), with the discussions proceeding in a discernible pattern. First, Almousa sets the scene, immersing you in a mental image of where you are and what you’re surrounded with. She then draws your attention to the things, individuals, and events that you might “see” around you and what they could possibly mean. Almousa ends each chapter with a brief summary of the lessons you’ve hopefully learned.

As far as books for personal development go, Mama Is Gonna Take You to the Circus gets points for novelty and creativity. The circus analogy creates a nice blueprint that ties the entire book together. The circus is your life; the clown represents you; the lion in the animal show signifies your ego; the cotton candy is a quirky lesson in creativity and taking risks. The book is packed with quaint thoughts on these matters, with inspirational quotes and anecdotes sprinkled here and there to reinforce the insights learned. The writing is also simple and clear, making the book accessible to its target audience — adolescents who need a bit of guidance in their lives.

Unfortunately, the metaphors do tend to overlap. While Almousa likens life in general to a circus, she also draws the same parallel to specific acts like walking on a tightrope or swinging on a trapeze. The comparisons can be somewhat unclear, as what she calls the “juggle called life” in an earlier section becomes the “juggling act of the circus called life” toward the end. Is juggling like life itself, or is it one aspect of life? Perhaps sticking to one metaphor for each element would make the lessons more memorable. Sometimes, the interpretation also shifts from figurative to literal. For instance, music is said to be the “passion that resides within you” that serves as your “inner compass,” but an accompanying discussion of the messages embedded in a song's lyrics presents a very literal view.

Almousa’s advocacy to empower adolescents everywhere is exemplified in her determination to write the book in English (which isn’t her mother tongue). Considering this, the book is free from any glaring grammatical errors. There are, however, several issues in comma usage that are too numerous to ignore. Both UK and US spelling variants are also present. For instance, the UK spelling is used for “succour” but not for “color.” Both “realise” and “realize” are also used throughout the text. Finally, the points of view in the book pose a challenge for me. While Almousa starts the narrative in the first person (“I hold my children’s hands”), she refers to herself in the third person (“Here, Mama will give you this advice”) and ends the book in this way (“She held your hand”). This approach underscores Almousa’s “mama” persona, but there’s just something about adults referring to themselves in the third person that I find off-putting.

That said, this metaphorical trip to the circus gets 3 out of 4 stars from me. Despite some flaws, the book does offer a fresh and creative way to tackle the subject of growing up and living a meaningful life. Adults may not respond too well with some of Almousa’s narrative choices and may find some metaphors quite overdone. However, adolescents struggling with developmental issues may benefit from a day in the circus with this trusty mother figure as their guide.

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Mama is gonna take you to the circus
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Post by SamSim » 12 Feb 2019, 08:41

Despite the "overlapping" and the editing errors, this is such a unique one that I'm eager to check it out.
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Post by kandscreeley » 12 Feb 2019, 09:25

Interesting. I haven't quite seen a book that uses a circus analogy; I love it! I'm going to have to look this one up, just for the circus analogy. Thanks for introducing us to this unique book.
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Post by kdstrack » 12 Feb 2019, 09:49

I wonder how many adolescents have actually been to a circus? The author brings a unique approach to this difficult time of life. I like her creative ideas and I think young people would enjoy it too. This book sounds interesting. Thanks for the informative review.

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Post by Rose Harebate » 12 Feb 2019, 13:18

I like the fact that the book contains inspirational quotes and can be used as a guidance for adolescents. Nice review!

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Post by DogoMulla » 12 Feb 2019, 18:53

A circus analogy? Well, that's new. Then "Mama" uses all the excitement to charter a betterment path to follow; quite interesting it seems. Indeed you have good reviewing skills.

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Post by Jaime Lync » 12 Feb 2019, 20:41

Great review....makes me want to pick up the book despite the flaws with the metaphors. I have not been to the circus, so I like these type of stories that take me places that I am not sure I will be able to see in real life...

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Post by Jessacardinal » 12 Feb 2019, 21:29

inaramid wrote:
11 Feb 2019, 05:11

...the book does offer a fresh and creative way to tackle the subject of growing up and living a meaningful life.
I agree with you. This sounds like a unique twist on personal development.
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Post by inaramid » 12 Feb 2019, 21:46

SamSim wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 08:41
Despite the "overlapping" and the editing errors, this is such a unique one that I'm eager to check it out.
I forgot to mention that the book is formatted well. But another round of editing would certainly help polish the text. Thanks for dropping by!

kandscreeley wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 09:25
Interesting. I haven't quite seen a book that uses a circus analogy; I love it! I'm going to have to look this one up, just for the circus analogy. Thanks for introducing us to this unique book.
Very unique. I've read five or six self-help books from this site, and this is one that certainly sticks. Thanks for dropping by!

kdstrack wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 09:49
I wonder how many adolescents have actually been to a circus? The author brings a unique approach to this difficult time of life. I like her creative ideas and I think young people would enjoy it too. This book sounds interesting. Thanks for the informative review.
That's a good thought. It did seem like the author assumes that the reader has already been to the circus. Regardless, the descriptions are vivid enough to help readers (whether they'd been to the circus or not) visualize the scene. Thanks for commenting!

Rose Harebate wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 13:18
I like the fact that the book contains inspirational quotes and can be used as a guidance for adolescents. Nice review!
Yes. It's practically about a mother giving advice to her "children" -- but in an allegorical way.

DogoMulla wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 18:53
A circus analogy? Well, that's new. Then "Mama" uses all the excitement to charter a betterment path to follow; quite interesting it seems. Indeed you have good reviewing skills.
Thanks, DogoMulla! It IS something that I have not seen before in a self-help book.

Jaime Lync wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 20:41
Great review....makes me want to pick up the book despite the flaws with the metaphors. I have not been to the circus, so I like these type of stories that take me places that I am not sure I will be able to see in real life...
Personally, I would have preferred one metaphor for one element, but what might come across as repetition to me might just be the reinforcement that adolescents need. Thanks for commenting!

Jessacardinal wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 21:29
I agree with you. This sounds like a unique twist on personal development.
Yes! Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by InStoree » 15 Feb 2019, 10:09

Juggling life! Now, that's something exciting. Fun and educational. I think I'll have a look. It catches me that circus analogy that you described it (circus-life, clown-me :D) Can't wait to see myself as a clown :)). Loved your review. Thanks!
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Post by Sushan » 15 Feb 2019, 10:42

Well written review, though the book is not a type of my usual taste. Thank you 👍👍
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Post by inaramid » 15 Feb 2019, 22:08

InStoree wrote:
15 Feb 2019, 10:09
Juggling life! Now, that's something exciting. Fun and educational. I think I'll have a look. It catches me that circus analogy that you described it (circus-life, clown-me :D) Can't wait to see myself as a clown :)). Loved your review. Thanks!
Thanks for dropping by! The analogy is the book's main feature, and it is explored well in the book.

Sushan wrote:
15 Feb 2019, 10:42
Well written review, though the book is not a type of my usual taste. Thank you 👍👍
I understand. But thanks for commenting, regardless!

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Post by Eva Darrington » 17 Feb 2019, 00:51

A unique metaphor: circus as life. The author gets points for creativity, for sure. That some of the metaphors get a bit mixed up is too bad, but it still sounds like the book succeeds. And writing a book in one's non-native tongue is commendable, without a doubt. Thanks for exploring this unique book so thoughtfully.
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Post by inaramid » 17 Feb 2019, 19:59

Eva Darrington wrote:
17 Feb 2019, 00:51
A unique metaphor: circus as life. The author gets points for creativity, for sure. That some of the metaphors get a bit mixed up is too bad, but it still sounds like the book succeeds. And writing a book in one's non-native tongue is commendable, without a doubt. Thanks for exploring this unique book so thoughtfully.
True, a very creative work from someone who seems to genuinely care about teens in general. Thanks for dropping by!

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