Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Review: That Time I Joined The Circus

That Time I Joined the CircusAuthor: J.J. Howard
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Point

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.

When I looked back at the ring, I recognized some animal handlers, now all in costumes. I even spotted the grumpy tiger man wearing a tiger-striped suit and a top hat. The performers took their places in the ring in three long lines. They put their heads down, waiting, and then the beat of the music changed, and they began doing their choreography, dancing to Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Some of them – I spotted Lina’s long, elegant frame right away – were amazing dancers, practically professionals. The animal trainers knew the steps but were clearly clumsier.

I’d had four jobs in the last two days alone. But at least I had a place to sleep, food to eat, and people who knew my name. Maybe that was a start.

I’d reread all the Jane Austen novels for about the fortieth time, and the nice little old lady who owns the used bookstore on Leonard Street – she’s the one to blame for selling me all those Austen paperbacks in the first place – recommended these Regency books to me. There are just millions of them, all really short, and all romances set around the same time as old Jane. They’re awful. I just can’t stop reading them.

The night was dark and not any cooler. The strange little circus town I’d helped to build blurred in my vision, and through tears I imagined for a moment that the lights I could see were the lights of New York City. I shivered and imagined it was from the cold. If only wishing could make any of it so. But when I wiped my eyes, the air was still warm: I was still at the circus. I had to stop wishing – I had nowhere else to go.

I was so terrified with the circus when I was a little girl, but ever since then I have been fascinated with its wonder and amusement. This novel was not what I expected in the least. I have a hard time calling it contemporary just because I don’t think of a circus setting for a contemporary novel, but nonetheless that is what it is. While reading this book I just couldn’t help but think of what people sacrifice to travel with a circus. Our story follows Lexi Ryan, who has just lost her father and is chasing the circus in hopes of finding her estranged mother. She doesn’t expect to be swept up in the beauty of the circus, and even find a place to call home again.

This book was light, fun, and an extremely easy read, but really did not meet my expectations. There were pieces and parts of it that I liked and even some I loved, but overall I think I just had my expectations set too high. I loved Lexi as a character, but couldn’t understand her desire to just give up on her high school education and future in an upstanding college. But we won’t get into that! Lexi was determined to find her mother and her way in life after her father passed away. Her life with the circus was entertaining and what I would expect circus life to be like. I loved seeing and reading about the inside of the circus and all its many characters from her point of view.

At the beginning of each chapter there is a different set of lyrics and a different artist, so this book is great if you want a new playlist for the road! Also the chapters alternate and I thought this was nicely done as well. Some chapters follow her life on the road and in as the newest member of the circus and others go back a few months before her father passed away and are mostly flashbacks. The chapters that are set in the past give away, subtly, a secret that Lexi has harbored, but I felt it was relatively easy to pick up on early on. I would suggest giving this book a try because I read several reviews where people rated it a lot higher than me, but I just expected more drama and show from a book about the circus.

***Thank you to the publishers at Scholastic Point for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I've been really wanting to read this one. I even almost bought a copy today. I have read a lot of reviews and I'm still eager to read it, but maybe now my expectations won't be so high. It stinks when that happens and then book ends up a bit disappointing.