Fiel's Reviews > That Time I Joined the Circus

That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
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Aug 01, 13

Read from June 26 to 27, 2013

I loved this so much. The narrative intersperses the present with the events leading up to that fateful October night, and each chapter is headed by lyrics from awesome songs. In Lexi's Before, she is known as Xandra and goes to school with her two only friends, Eli and Bailey, who are dating, much to her vexation. Her dad is a DJ and means well, but isn't really that involved in her life, and her mother left when she was eight. In her After, she's starting from scratch and learning to deal with so many changes, which, I think, she did gracefully and with a level head.

I think I liked this more because Lexi's such an introvert and I was able to relate to her frustrations. Her feelings of being left out and not knowing how to deal with the shifts in her day-to-day dealings weren't that far from my own, and I felt for her. The novel epitomizes coming of age and presents such great factors, from the circus (of course!) to the music Lexi always hears inside her head to life on the move to the city, even Lexi's guilty pleasure of reading category romances.

The prose is wry and rings true, and the deadpan sarcasm is always a welcome addition. The secondary characters feel like home and are wonderfully introduced and further explored. Several side plots are written in and given interesting, satisfying closure, while the main story is paced just right, has entertaining twists and turns, and resolves all the conflict in fresh, realistic ways, especially Lexi's family issues. I enjoyed the interaction between Lexi and Nick, the former tarot reader's (apparently v. v. attractive) son who storms in and catches her off-guard in more ways than one, but it's still the dynamic of her and Eli that I adored better. Hello, best-friend romance, do you really have to ask?! Their relationship is well-explored, and it's an indie-kid romance in New York (yo, they climb up each other's fire escapes, come on!), so I was pretty much having a field day.

I kind of wish there was more grief about her dad, but it was believable how she avoided thinking about it and, ultimately, that wasn't the focal point. Still, while not central, it doeshave a respectable amount of presence in the plot. Finally, I've never been to the circus, but I did like reading about life revolving around one very much. I also grew up around small-town local fairs, you know, those old-school carnivals, and this book made me miss them in a good way.
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06/26/2013 marked as: currently-reading
06/27/2013 marked as: read
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