About the protagonist, Jason Benson, child juggler:
I got the feeling that as time wore on and the more talented he became in juggling, the more he tried to cling on to the innocence he had as a child, often wanting to go back to when times were simpler....
The book teases the senses and keeps the reader on a leash in trying to figure out why Jason Benson turned out that way [a grumpy middle-aged man struggling to relate to his wife and daughter]. I admit that I grew up in 1990s, and in Texas, thus I'm not familiar with the time or situation, but reading the book, I felt a wave of nostalgia for a lost childhood of the time of Judy Blume, at least in my case. There is cleverness in the writing and I loved the sensory description. While there is nostalgia, there are also hints of psychology and of wondering why Jason is that way and what he might be thinking and feeling as years come and go.
The novel is indeed about Jason's attempt to cling to a way of life, and a town, that are disappearing even as he begins to celebrate them. In a larger sense, the book is about the constant change in our lives, the mistakes we make, the way we have to "grow up" not once but over and over again. As Thomas Wolfe (shown in a Library of Congress photo taken by Carl Van Vechten) wrote in You Can't Go Home Again:
For he had learned some of the things that every man must find out for himself, and he had found out about them as one has to find out--through error and through trial, through fantasy and illusion, through falsehood and his own damn foolishness, through being mistaken and wrong and an idiot and egotistical and aspiring and hopeful and believing and confused.... Each thing he learned was so simple and obvious, once he grasped it, that he wondered why he had not always known it.