BOOK REVIEW + Gift Card GIVE AWAY - The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway

by Allyson Rice

GENRE: Contemporary fiction (family dramedy)

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.


The inside of Audrey and Maudry’s was kitsch heaven. In addition to clothes and shoes, there was an ungodly amount of porcelain knick-knacks. There were also old dolls (some of them with all their limbs still attached); ancient VCR tapes of Porky’s, The Dukes of Hazzard, Joe Dirt, and God’s Not Dead 2; a velvet painting of Jesus wearing a Georgia Bulldogs football jersey; a box containing an inner thigh device call “Super Kegel”; an assortment of boxed games for girls like “American Dream Date” and “The Sassy Experience Game”; a push lawn mower; and an old Sean Cassidy and Parker Stevenson Hardy Boys poster from the 70’s. 

Audrey and Maudry, identical twins in their late sixties, sat in chairs near the cash register. Audrey, wearing clothing and jewelry covered in brightly colored Chihuahuas, was knitting. Maudry was decked out in her year-round Christmas attire and was decorating a satin Christmas ball with beads and ribbons and pins from the little table next to her.

“Hello! Welcome! Come on in!” they said in sing-song unison.

Audrey’s Chinese Crested Chihuahua, a raggedy little thing with some kind of skin disease and milky eyes, growled at Sean.

“Oh, don’t mind Carlos,” said Audrey. “He’s totally blind. He doesn’t even know what he’s barking at.”

The comment obviously referenced some inside joke, because the twins looked at each other and cracked up in the same bizarre, shrill laugh. Though whether their inside joke was about Carlos, blindness, or skin disease wasn’t immediately clear. It was like the three J’s had landed on some sort of retro planet ruled by two alternate versions of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? 

I received an advance review copy for free and am leaving this review voluntarily. Thank you Allyson Rice and Goddess Fish Promotions. I'm excited to be a part of this tour.

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway is the tale of estranged sisters and their newly discovered brother who embark on a comically surreal road trip through the Deep South to retrace the life of the mother who abandoned them at birth to secure their inheritance. What could possibly go wrong?

On a Tuesday, Chicago based sisters Jesse and Jennifer get a phone call stating their mother is dead and has left behind a significant inheritance. The catch? They must follow a detailed road trip she designed for them to get to know her and their brother.

The trio treks across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to meet their mother’s old friends – from circus performers to a juke joint owner – each shares shocking insight in to a young mother traumatized by loss and abuse.

I absolutely love this character driven debut. The author does an excellent job weaving together several themes and tying them back to one another creating a complex yet fascinating tale. The book is hilarious and had me laughing out loud at time. Additionally, I appreciate that the author treated heavy topics with dignity and respect. I enjoyed learning about their mom, her life, and why she made the choices she did. I found myself empathizing with her. I also liked the chemistry between the siblings and enjoyed watch their relationship develop as the road trip progressed. Having lived in the Deep South, I appreciated the cultural references. The scenes are well depicted which had been feeling like I was on this adventure too! I look forward to reading more from this author. 

Overall Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Allyson Rice is a writer, an award-winning 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 once again on her own creative work. In addition to her writing and art, she’s also a photographer (her work was most recently seen in an exhibition at the Soho Photo Gallery in NYC).

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 and can now be seen on YouTube (

Also available from Allyson Rice is her line of women’s coloring books (The Color of Joy, Dancing with Life, and Wonderland), and The Creative Prosperity PlayDeck, an inspirational card deck about unlocking and utilizing your creative energy in the world. She’s currently at work on her second novel and her fourth women’s coloring book. But she is most proud of being mom to musical artist @_zanetaylor.

My Websites:  (My Author Site)  (My E-commerce site)

Social Media Links: 




Buy Links:

Amazon book Link

Barnes & Noble book link

KOBO book link

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Goodreads book link:


Allyson Rice will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice


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