Latest Read: That Time I Joined The Circus

Here are the basics ...
That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
Publication date: April 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Inc. / Point
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Netgalley (Thank you!)

Summary: A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi Ryan 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 who is rumored to be with a traveling circus. When Lexi arrives, her mom isn't there but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers 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. Then Lexi's ex-best friend shows up, and suddenly it's Lexi's own future that's thrown into question. (Adapted
My thoughts…
The good: I haven't read many books that take place in a circus. There was The Night Circus, Water for Elephants and a little bit of The Tiger's Curse. But nothing quite like this book. I loved the whole setting and seeing what went on behind-the-scenes. Lexi ends up at the circus while searching for her mother, but she's also running away from a huge mistake she's made as well as a personal tragedy.  When she realizes her mom isn't there, she decides to join just to earn a little more money but falls in love with the circus life along the way. I think what I liked best about Lexi was that at first she's just this snarky, I'll always be a New Yorker snob (which she proclaims proudly). I felt like she never saw herself doing or being anything but that person. And when she joins the circus, she's thrown into this crazy world and experiences so different from what she's known, but she embraces it. She doesn't complain, she doesn't throw herself a pity party. Instead she works hard to prove herself, makes friends (loved the friendships!) and opens herself up to possibility. I don't know if I could get on a bus without a penny to my name and then throw myself into circus work or create my own act. I admired her tenacity.

Then you know I'm a sucker for characters who love music. And Lexi loves music. Right away she talks about having a soundtrack for all the different moments in her life and even the chapters start off with lyrics (which reminds me, I want to look up all the songs!).

(Major) reservations: There's "romance" (or rather "romances") in this book and I say that in quotes because honestly, everything supposedly romantic fell completely flat. She gets involved with a few guys throughout the course of this short book and her interest in each started so abruptly. Same goes for the feelings developed and how they end. All abrupt. It was a little jarring and ultimately, I thought it took away from the plot overall because I saw this as being Lexi's story of growing up and her search for her mom and forgiveness. We don't get to know any of those other characters well enough to root for them. There were kind of just there and forgettable.

Another important aspect of the plot is Lexi's relationship with her father. It's established early on and throughout the entire book that they have this offbeat but close relationship. They got one another. But then the author decides to reveal something about her dad towards the end that didn't sit right with the picture that had already been painted of him. I personally didn't see the benefit of introducing the new angle.

Do I recommend?: I don't see myself recommending this to any of my friends. As much as I liked the idea behind this book and the circus setting, the story and plot didn't evoke any kind of emotion in me. The writing style and characters didn't appeal to me either, at least not on a level for it truly resonate. That said, if the premise does intrigue you, it could be worth looking into and deciding for yourself. I'd definitely like to know how other people feel about it.

Happy reading!


  1. Huh, yeah the premise does interest me and I am kind of sort of on a tour for this. SO, yeah I have to read it, but I'll go in with the whole flat romance thing in mind.

    1. Yeah, I mean I hate to say this but I think going in with low expectations is a good approach. I hope you enjoy it more than I did though!

  2. You know how I felt about this book after reading it. There were certain elements I loved about it completely, but other things just got in the way and made it considerably less enjoyable. Still, it was a fun circus experience though!

  3. I really love the circus setting, but everything else is putting up red flags! I read another review of this recently that complained about the love-square happening, and that was a big enough turn-off on its own. But the weird thing with her father at the end would really bother me - I really dislike finishing a book with a sour taste in my mouth.


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