Friday, February 3, 2023

Women's Fiction Review Spotlight: The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice

Every now and then, a book title catches my interest and, without even reading the book blurb, the book gains a spot on my reading list. Today, I am sharing contemporary women's fiction novel The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice. Check out the book, read my thoughts on the novel, learn about the author and be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.


Book Title:  The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+) ,  270 pages
GenreContemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
PublisherThe Total Human Press
Release date:   Jan 3, 2023
Content RatingPG-13 + M because one of the characters swears a lot, and she drops some f-bombs. Also, there are short flashback scenes that reveal the mom's history and it includes rape (not graphically depicted in the novel)
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about the book

In an attempt to secure an unexpected inheritance—and hopefully find a few answers—two estranged sisters and their newly discovered brother embark on a comically surreal trip through the Deep South to retrace the life of the mother who abandoned them as infants.

On a Tuesday afternoon, sisters Jesse Chasen and Jennifer McMahon receive a phone call notifying them that their birth mother has died, leaving behind a significant inheritance. But in order to obtain it, they must follow a detailed road trip she designed for them to get to know her—and that includes finding a brother they never knew existed.

For the next week, this ill-assorted trio treks across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to meet their mother’s old friends, from circus performers to a juke joint owner, each of whom delivers a shocking vignette into the life of a young mother traumatized by loss and abuse. Along the way, these three siblings—Jesse, whose fiery exterior disguises a wounded, drifting musician stuck in a rut; Jennifer, whose carefully curated family life is threatened by her husband’s infidelity; and Jack, whose enigmatic Jackie, Oh! persona in the New Orleans drag queen scene helps him escape the nightmares of Afghanistan that haunt him at night—must confront their own demons (and at least one alligator). But in chasing the truth about their real mother, they may all just find their second chance.

​This uproarious debut novel is a reminder that sometimes, the family you’d never have chosen may turn out to be exactly what you need.
 my review
The Key to Circus-Mom Highway Blends Random Humor and Family Drama. The quirky, flawed main characters alone bring readers a host of stereotypical yet oddly relatable and even believable perspectives as the novel's plot unfolds. The main characters meet many other quirky, flawed, odd characters on their journey toward gaining their inheritance and learning about the life and experiences of the mother they never knew. The siblings encounter some darkness and drama--and delve into their own lives and traumas. The author adds enough twists and turns, silly happenings, and opportunities for humor and sarcasm to lighten the mood during their short journey together. There is a unique balance between humorous misadventures and darker family drama.
Expect to Become Attached to the Characters. Each character has a unique perspective and develops and grows throughout the novel in their own way. Despite differences, some sibling bonding and support form as the characters face their own pasts and flaws a bit along the journey that their mother laid out for them. I can't say that I had a favorite character--but I did find myself rooting for all of them to find happiness and feelings of belonging.
Would I Recommend The Key to Circus Mom Highway by Allyson Rice? I love sarcasm and authors that bring humor to darker storylines. This book brings a lot of seemingly random characters and happenings together to create a unique character journey that fits the story well. While I didn't love any one character, I loved how the author brought them together and made me root for a happy ending. I didn't love the ending--but I think it was an ending that fit the characters and the story flow. If you enjoy books with eclectic blends of characters, sometimes misplaced humor, and a dramatic, mysterious family drama--this book is an entertaining one for your reading list.    
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meet the author

Allyson Rice is a writer, mixed media artist, and a producer with Atomic Focus Entertainment, currently splitting her time between Los Angeles, CA, and Rehoboth Beach, DE. She’s a graduate of Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. After spending many years as an actress on stage and on television, she left acting and spent the next decade running yoga/meditation retreats, women’s retreats, and creativity retreats around the country. After that, she pivoted to focus on her own creative work. In addition to her writing and art, she’s also a photographer.

Some random bits of Allyson trivia:
  1. She’s been skydiving, paragliding, bungee jumping, ziplining through a rainforest, and scuba diving with stingrays;
  2. she has an extensive PEZ dispenser collection;
  3. she played Connor Walsh on As the World Turns for seven years;
  4. she’s been in the Oval Office at the White House after hours;
  5. she’s related to the Hatfields of the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud; and
  6. her comedic rap music video “Fine, I’ll Write My Own Damn Song” won numerous awards in the film festival circuit. 

Also available from Allyson is her line of women’s coloring books (The Color of JoyDancing with Life, and Wonderland), and The Creative Prosperity PlayDeck, an inspirational card deck about unlocking and utilizing your creative energy in the world. They’re available on

She’s currently at work on her second novel and her fourth women’s coloring book.

Also, anyone who signs up for Allyson’s periodic author newsletter on her website will be entered in a drawing to have a character in her next novel named after them, and a free book will be given away in each newsletter to a subscriber!

connect with the author:  

enter the giveaway
The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice Book Tour Giveaway

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