This is the story of Faith Duckle, who through a string of incidents, finds herself attached to a traveling carnival. Now, this doesn't exactly happen until about halfway through the novel, but it is important nonetheless. In the beginning of the novel, Faith was fat. This is how we are introduced to her, as the Fat Girl. She is attacked under the bleachers at school and processes this event in a very real and raw manner. She tries to kill herself and winds up in a rehab where she deals with herself and loses a lot of her weight in the process. In the process of becoming this less fat girl, she keeps her Fat Girl persona to the side. It acts as a secret identity/ subconscious motivator for her.
What I love about this novel is that it is a story of redemption. Faith has lost faith in herself at the beginning of the story. She has done something horrible and runs away from home, joining up with the circus. And while the circus can act as a metaphor for all sorts of human feelings and emotions, the circus is where Faith finds her salvation. She changes her name to Annabelle and in that simple act, manages to redefine herself. She is no longer the dumpy fat girl that everyone used to ignore. She is Annabelle Cabinet. She is a hard worker and good listener.
I feel like I should say more about the novel, but it is not something I can describe. It is a book that should be experienced. I think anyone who was ever picked on in middle or high school could benefit from reading this book. Kind of like Speak, it is a story that captures the not-pretty side of high school. It is the Anti-Gossip Girl story, if you will.