Review: That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
That Time I Joined the Circus
by: J.J. Howard
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review
Page Count: 272 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars
I really enjoyed this book! I saw it on NetGalley and wasn't sure if it was something I'd want to try, but I'm really glad that I did! I found myself completely wrapped up in the storyline to see how things for Lexi would play out. J.J. Howard does jump back and forth between the present and the past, which allows us readers to see what transpired prior to Lexi's current situation. It did take some getting used to, but I think it was a key element to the novel.
I was a huge fan of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, so I already knew I would like reading about life working on a traveling circus.
Our main character Lexi, has escaped from New York City to track down her mother after a very sudden tragedy occurs in her life. She finds herself joining up with a traveling circus in hopes that her mom will be there. However, she has no such luck in finding her. Lexi decides to stay on and what we have is a beautiful, fun story about a girl whose life has been completely turned upside down and is learning how to live a different way. She trades her old broken friendships for new ones and also trades her insecurity and shyness in to become bolder and seek out new adventures.
Along the way with those new friendships, she does form a couple of romantic interests. Two of them I understood completely and naturally fit in with the storyline, but one other seemed a bit thrown in there and nothing ever really came of it.
Eli, is Lexi's best friend from New York and after dating her other best friend Bailey, the two started to drift apart. Lexi continuously felt like the third wheel, and then started to feel left out. My heart really ached for Lexi. She doesn't really associate with the other kids from school and the two best friends she does have start dating each other and then she is left with no one and becomes quite lonely. However, a very big event occurs that involves the three of them, leaving Lexi heartbroken and confused. Not too long after reaching the circus she meets Jamie, who takes her under his wing and shows her the ropes and offers her friendship and a shoulder to lean on. I honestly expected him to play a larger role than he actually did in the story. Finally, there is Nick, who I personally really liked. Not to mention, the way he and Lexi meet is quite humorous. The two end up being quite close and he is another person she comes to trust and rely on.
At first I didn't feel like I got the resolution that I wanted in this book concerning Lexi and the relationships she had formed. And then I think maybe I've been a bit too critical of a certain character. People make mistakes and this one made a particularly bad one, but is still deserving of forgiveness. I admire Lexi for being able to forgive those who had hurt her, which is why after all is said and done I really did like her as our protagonist.
This is a light, fun read that tells about a girl who not only ends up working for a traveling circus, but who also finds herself on a journey to self-discovery and self-worth.