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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: That Time I Joined the Circus by J. J. Howard

Title: That Time I Joined the Circus
Author: J. J. Howard
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Publishing House: Point
ISBN: 9780545433815
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


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 also 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.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


When the book basically promises you a grand time at the circus, you get excited. You wonder if there's gonna be some wild animals involved, and whether there would be a lot of drama going down in such a fun and exotic setting. But J.J. Howard's That Time I Joined the Circus isn't really more of what happens in the circus, per se.

When Lexi suddenly lost her dad to a traffic accident, she has nowhere to turn. The private school basically suspends her from getting an education, and she might have screwed things up with her friends when she hooks up with her best friend, Eli. Oh, and she's getting booted from the place she's staying at. Her best chance of survival is to find her estranged mom, and the rumor is that she was hanging with the circus. With nothing left to lose, Lexi then wanders into the circus and tries to figure out her part in the grand scheme of things.

Lexi would be the kind of protagonist I would love to push into the dung she shoveled when she first started out. She's whiny, almost always focuses on the ME! ME! ME! aspect, and plays the poor-little-old-me-boo-freaking-hoo card every chance she gets (Hoo boy, and can she play it.) Did I mention that she claims to "feel something" for every cute guy that catches her eye? Oh, and she lands the fortune teller gig, because girlfriend is of course, coincidence of coincidences, pretty good at reading tarot cards. She also judges people pretty harshly before she actually gets to know them, and I couldn't help but wish that she'd just keep her petty little observations to herself. The love interests were banal and predictable at best, and I'd just have to say that Lexi must have saved a country in her past life because the girl is so lucky that almost everything goes her way in the end. (Cue the endless rolling of eyes.)

If you're actually contemplating picking this book up for the circus aspect, you'd be disappointed. I often thought that the sequence of events were just so random and all over the place. If anything, this is a shot at a confusing (and annoyingly frustrating) teenage romance that just happens to take place around the circus. 



  1. I don't think this is a book for me. I hate it when a book promises something and doesn't deliver it.. The MC sounds horrible, bah!


    1. Hopefully, more circus-themed books will come out soon! -crosses fingers-

  2. Lol. Great review! This one's is SO going on the back burner. Bummer. It sounded so good...