Review: Hidden on the High Wire

Hidden on the Hire Wire

by Kathy Kacer

Second Story Press, 2022

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Merle Eisman Carrus

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Hidden on the High Wire tells the story of a traveling family circus. Author Kathy Kacer begins the story in November, 1939 in Germany. Irene Danner is 13 years old and the star performer on the high wire for the Lorch Family Circus. She learned her balancing act from her grandfather, who has recently died. He passed the family business to her father, as the first Danner to run the Lorch family circus in four generations, as the ringmaster.

These are difficult times for the Jewish people living in Germany and it is becoming dangerous and ultimately impossible for the Lorch Family to continue traveling and performing. The circus is sold and Irene's father is sent to serve in the army. Irene and her mother are hiding from the Nazis. Reading a circus poster, Irene discovers the perfect way to protect herself and her mother.

She approaches a German family circus and asks for employment as a tightrope walker. The ringmaster, Adolf Althoff, agrees to hide Irene and her mother in his circus. He willingly puts his family and all those in his circus at risk to help this Jewish family. Irene joins the high wire act and her mother sews costumes for the performers. It is like hiding in plain sight. It takes courage for Irene to strike this deal and to perform in in the circus, and it takes bravery for the members of the Althoff circus to keep the secret and protect Irene and her family.
The story is based on the real-life Lorch Family Circus and the Althoff Family Circus. Both families have led the business for generations. 
This book is an entertaining and educational story, engaging both in the historical storyline and the descriptions of the circus life. The reader can feel the tension, fear, and bravery involved both in walking on the high wire and living through the hate and threats of the Holocaust. This book presents the Holocaust in a realistic but readable way. The story shows the increase of antisemitism and how the Jews are being squeezed out of society. The plot of this book deals with the ugliness of the Nazis against the Jewish people and with the goodness that is also a part of humanity. Hidden on the High Wire is an excellent candidate for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

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Reviewer Merle Eisman Carrus Resides in New Hampshire and writes book reviews for the NH Jewish Reporter newspaper. She is a graduate of Emerson College and received her Masters of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. Merle is the National President of the Brandeis National Committee and co-chair of Women's League Reads. She leads books discussion groups and author interviews. She blogs her book reviews at


  1. I am using this book for a project I have. (I'm in 7th grade) The book is very interesting and keeps me on my toes to know what's happening next. I really like the book I give it a 4/5. HEHE


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