Walking on Air

For Ages: 12 and up
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But today I dream of falling...into the crowd of God-struck people. The pale leaves of their faces tilt up and their white limbs rise to catch me as I am passed among the river of their hands, one to another, am kept by them, am kept.

-- from Walking on Air

It is the Depression in America, 1931. Twelve-year-old June is a tightrope walker. Performing in her preacher father's revival shows, June travels through cities, makeshift camps, carnivals, and freak shows. The family has no home, no money, no friends -- and faith that is getting thinner than the air upon which June walks. On her journey June examines her life and is torn between loyalty to her family and their religion, and the life she might have. She comes to understand that discovering what the world has in store for her will require facing old family secrets and making some gut-wrenching decisions.

Walking on Air is a stirring novel of self-examination, as June balances on a literal and figurative tightrope within the rich and tormented landscape of America during the Depression. Facing the problems of her day, June must use her wit, fire, and strong spirit in order to triumph.
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  • Margaret K. McElderry Books | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439131923 | 
  • May 2010 | 
  • Grades 7 and up
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

FROM GOING TO AND FRO ON THE EARTH, AND FROM WALKING UP AND DOWN ON IT.

-- The Devil speaking to God, JOB

Another town. Wet streets and broken streetlamps. This one is not as bad as some. Only half the shops are boarded up.

We are living it up with a diner meal: white volcano of potato with lava gravy, carrots and peas, gray oblong of meat (some cow shoulder or butt).

Pa sucks on his cigarette as if it's his last. Ma raises her fork to her mouth every thirty seconds. It's like she is doing some kind of experiment and the timing has to be just right.

Occasionally, she says... see more

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