That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic
Release Date: April 1st 2013
Synopsis: 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 can’t help but sort of love this novel. Sure, it’s flawed and can be a bit ridiculous at times but there is just something so charming about That Time I Joined the Circus that literally makes me utterly unable to dislike it.
Things I Liked: Okay, awhile I do wish there was more of this:
…. I did like the circus element of the story. The circus was more of the background than the main part of the story, but still. I love me some circus-y fun.
The protagonist, Lexi, is childish but she does have a very self-deprecating, slightly snarky voice that will make a person laugh more than a few times. I could also relate to her and her feelings of being left out by her friends Eli and Bailey in a big way. And I kind of loved that she sort of blunders about through a lot of things. Her growth and revelations throughout the story is a reason to read this book alone. And I really appreciated the fact that it is not just mentioned that she is bookish and likes music. She actually reads books and listens to music.
Most of the side characters are equally as loveable and colorful as Lexi. Lina and Liska may seem a bit cold at first, but further development shows that they are actually very sweet characters that provide Lexi the friendship that she needs. Jamie is very silly (more so towards the end than the beginning) and I found myself loving him almost immediately. And awhile I did get annoyed by him sometimes, Nick is a kind person who really shows that he cares about Lexi. Plus, he had a hilarious habit of picking Lexi up and carrying her away like a man would do in a cheap romance novel 😛
The rest of the circus crew, awhile not remarkable enough to describe in depth, have a very pleasant presence and they really do enhance the novel in their own little way.
And the humor! Oh the humor is definitely for the people who like snark and love reading book with snarky words and sentences. I couldn’t get enough of it! You did well on this one, J.J. Howard, very well.
Things I Disliked: Of course, there are a whole ton of flaws that are hidden in That Time I Joined the Circus‘s pages. And they are all only painfully obvious toward and in the ending. (Beware readers: This part of the review has some spoilery!) Here’s a list of all those bad, terrible flaws:
- Lexi’s reunion with her mother was mediocre at best. There was barely any poignancy or happiness or sweetness radiating through the pages at all during the event. So I was very disappointed, especially since it was one of the most important events in the book.
- I don’t think it is ever acceptable to just throw away a nice, kind boy that is part of a love triangle in order to have the female protagonist end up with the other part. Even more so when the boy the female protagonist does end up with is selfish, stupid, and caused the girl a heck of a lot of hurt.
- There were so many convenient things happening to tie the story up in a neat little bow that it got really, really annoying.
- This is kind of nit-picky, but I’m just going to say it: One of the teenage girls that are a part of the circus is getting married to another teenage boy. First of all, teenagers should not be getting married. They should just have fun dating and doing all the stupid things us teenagers do.
Overall, this was a nice, short, and fun read that I will probably return to whenever I need a laugh. That Time I Joined the Circus could have been a favorite, but the flaws that are oh so apparent at the end were just to bothersome to ignore.
An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.