Book Review: That Time I Joined The Circus

That Time I Joined The Circus CoverBook: That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard

Published April 2013 by Scholastic|Pages: 273

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Goodreads|J.J. Howard’s Website

A Note: That Time I Joined The Circus was an e-book from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Summary: Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose.

A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake–and facing a terrible tragedy–Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi’s mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.

When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn’t there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus’s fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi’s ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it’s Lexi’s own future that’s thrown into question.

With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

I am so glad I read That Time I Joined The Circus!  I think it might be one of my favorites that I’ve read this year.

It took a little time to get into it, because it was hinted that Lexi was doing something horrible the night her father died, but we eventually learn what happened that night, and all the details that led up to that night.  But in the end, I loved how the story unfolded and how we slowly learn all the details of that night.

I thought the role music has was pretty good, and while it had a big role, there were times when I felt like she wasn’t as music-obsessed as I was expecting her to be.  I did like that each chapter had lyrics from different songs, and that every single chapter went along with said lyrics.

We totally have to talk about the setting, because the circus is the main setting of the book!  Where The Night Circus was magical, and Water For Elephants was a little bit dark, That Time I Joined The Circus was fun and sweet and light-hearted.  I just loved the circus and how we saw the midway and the crew and the main act.  Circus Europa had a lot of charm.

There were some serious moments, because Lexi ends up at the circus trying to find her mother after her father died.  I felt like Lexi searching for her mother randomly disappeared once Lexi realized her mother wasn’t at the circus.  I thought that was interesting because Lexi has  no way to find her mother.  She does find her mother in the end, but I didn’t particularly care about the relationship she had with her mother.  Mostly because her mother was absent for a lot of the book, and so it was hard to care.  I also felt that way about her relationship with her dad, who we only saw in a handful of flashbacks.

What I did like was her guilt over being with Eli when she got the call about her dad.  I found it really easy to relate to, and I’d probably feel the same way if I were in her position.  I didn’t find her relationship with Eli too believable, because I never really felt like her feelings for him were really strong.  It definitely seemed like they were there, but it was hard to like her with him when I liked her with Nick so much better.

The circus is such a great backdrop for Lexi’s journey of figuring out she is and dealing with feeling abandoned by her two (ex) best friends, her mother who left when she was a child, and by her father.  I loved seeing her make friends at the circus, where people were not who they initially seemed to be.  Her time at the circus led her to a performing arts college, and I loved seeing how much her time in the circus changed her.

Final Thoughts:

I SO COMPLETELY LOVED That Time I Joined The Circus.  While the flashbacks didn’t completely work for me at first, by the end I was completely in love with the characters and the circus.  The title and the cover go so well with the story, and it’s better than I ever could have imagined.  That Time I Joined The Circus gets 5 stars.

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