That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard

That Time I Joined the CircusThat Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
Published by: Scholastic Point on April 1, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 272
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★★

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.

This book is just adorable. I’m getting all warm and snuggly just thinking about it again. I will say that the cover fits this book PERFECTLY. It’s warm, it’s bubbly, it’s sad at times, it’s fun and games and new experiences. There is just something so, completely, and totally awesome about a book that takes place at the circus. I LOVE that!! Even though it is listed as romance, for me this book is more of a self discovery book.

And because Lexi is a Jane Austen fan, there’s even a little bit of a typical Jane Austen twist: first impressions are not always what they seem. I loved that because at first I thought some characters were going to be Ice Queen Bitches, but they turned out to be some of my favourite characters instead.

For the most part, Lexi was a fabulous main character! I didn’t always get along with her in some of the “flashback” chapters because she could be really self-deprecating, but I adored her in all the current ones. She’s sweet, outgoing, and takes initiative. Even though she made a “huge mistake”, she really is just a good person.

I only had two real issues with this book. First: it’s told in alternating time periods—before the “huge mistake” and afterwards (at the circus). Sometimes I felt like all the jumping back and forth, and skipping ahead in dates made the relationship development lack a little bit, particularly with the romances. And the romances is where my second problem is. I felt like the romance was all over the place and I couldn’t quite figure it out. First Lexi is kissing Jamie, then she’s flirting with Nick, and one of her old friends is still half in the picture but half out.. There was just no strong, central romance for me. I didn’t like how, at first, I thought Nick was going to be the main love interest. Then he ditched her and Lexi went back to Eli. I would have been okay with Lexi going back to Eli if I got the sense that she had feelings for him all along, but I never got that impression. The romance did have sweet moments, but ultimately I did feel a little disconnected from it.

Overall, That Time I Joined the Circus is a fun, cute read. Even though Lexi does have some big problems and there are a few heartfelt moments, I wouldn’t really call this a gut-wrenching, emotional novel.. and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! As the cover would suggest, That Time I Joined the Circus is all about pretty lights and trapeze artists. This is a book that I just really enjoyed reading. It was on the lighter side and it was certainly entertaining!

The Verdict


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    1. I totally agree Kelly! I was hoping this book would be kind of light, fun, and maybe a bit fluffy. And that’s what it was! It’s just a nice escape from all the crazy emotional books. I mean, it’s about the circus! That’s totally fun!

    1. Yeah the two time periods wasn’t my favourite part.. and it was a little confusing at first. I had to start really paying attention to the dates at the start of each chapter so I could get a good sense of the timeline. But otherwise I really liked it!

  1. This book has been tickling my fancy for a while. After reading so much dystopians, a read like this is indeed uplifting for once. I am annoyed that the alternating time frames cause a bit of chronological confusion and hinders the relationship development. Nonetheless, I feel as though I’d enjoy this book. Me loves circuses too.

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