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That Time I Joined the Circus

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,960 ratings  ·  322 reviews
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
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Point
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,960 ratings  ·  322 reviews

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Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, arc
A sweet and enchanting, read, this novel brings us to a circus where New York City girl, Lexi, figures out who she is, and where she wants to go in life.

Having been a big fan of Water for Elephants, I've since had a liking for books revolving around the circus, so That Time I Joined the Circus had me instantly intrigued by its title alone. Although it is much different from Water for Elephants; where that book is dark and dangerous, this one is light and cute, I found a similar kind of adoratio
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book, oh this book. It starts off rather nicely. It certainly is very readable and the protagonist, Lexi, is initially rather relatable and more importantly, easy to empathize with. Her life falls apart completely and she has no choice but to hare across the country (ish?) to find her mother who, according to her sources, is working at a circus. Only the circus comes along without her mother in it.

The trouble I had with this book is the lack of realism in the characters and the events occur
Initial reaction: Despite an atmospheric implied promo, "That Time I Joined the Circus" really doesn't quite match up to the mark of what the story's about, and was a bit of a lukewarm read for me despite several problems. Lexi's a young woman who, after a series of difficult blows in her life, searches for her mother, who might have joined a circus. She finds more than she bargained for in her journey, including three guys she has conflicted feelings for, and a mother who didn't leave under the ...more
Anna Luce
A sweet fluffy read that leaves a smile on your face with a lovable main character,not so obvious romance plus lots of great music references like Radiohead which is pretty much my favourite band!

Originally at:

Actual Review: 1.5 stars

Oh God I hate giving negative reviews. This pains me, I’ve literally put off having to review this for a month and half s i g h

THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS and I did not get along very well.

Here’s a thing you need to know about me: I love the circus. Love. As in, When I Was Younger I Trained To Be A Trapeze Artist sort of love, and that all didn’t work out i know you don’t care i’m stopping now, but it left me with a
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: circus
It's weird, I really liked this book after I finished and had originally given it a four star rating. But now the more I think about it, the more angry I get at this book.

After a sudden tragedy and a mistake that has left her friendless, Lexi Ryan finds that she has no choice but to leave New York in search of an estranged mother. She goes looking for her in Florida where she thinks that her mother has joined a traveling circus. She doesn't find her mother but has no money and has run out of op
Feb 20, 2013 rated it liked it
A circus book! Lions, tigers, tight rope walkers, bearded ladies and...teenage runaways. Fun, right?

Well, mostly. While I didn't absolutely love That Time I Joined the Circus, it was a nice, quick read that I think a lot of people will love.

A lot of my bigger problems with That Time I Joined the Circus had to do with my overall feeling. I really liked runaway Lexi, and the cast of secondary characters we meet along the way. The circus was an interesting and different setting, one I thought real
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard

Lexi – utterly alone – but oh-so-strong!
I loved Lexi! She was a fascinating main character with a fresh voice and a story that made my cry and laugh so much! Lexi had to go through so much, and it made me gasp when I realized how utterly alone this poor girl is going to be! But it wouldn’t be Lexi if she wouldn’t find a way to deal with her situation and tries to make the best out of it. This is when she joins the circus as this might be the only chance for her! I love her vulnerability, but
Dec 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story! There were some parts where I just didn’t want to put the book down. I think when I first tried to read this a few years ago I couldn’t get past the first few chapters but the story really kicks off when Lexi gets to the circus.

I loved the kind of family/camaraderie among the people who worked behind the scenes for the circus. There was also a good female friendship between Lexi and two girls in the circus. I loved the way they empowe
Stephanie Fitzgerald
May 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: I wouldn’t
I did not enjoy this one as much as I thought I would, having read some of the author’s other works.
Can’t put my finger on any one thing; it just wasn’t an enjoyable read for me.
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to receive this book via NetGalley. I am so glad I did. I absolutely loved this book. Lexi (or X) is facing a tough time. Her father recently passed away and her mother abandoned her when she was young. Forced to find her mother she heads to her mother's latest job. A traveling circus.
There Lexi doesn't find her mother, but finds a family.
I loved reading Lexi's struggles, her romance, her friendships and everything in between.
This was such an amazing book, I highly recommend
Kelly Hager
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book completely captivated me. I loved Lexi, with her sarcasm and her knowledge of all things music (even though I think I would've gotten along better with her dad, whose musical taste was stuck in the 80s), and I love the fact that she ran away and joined the circus AND TOTALLY NAILED IT.

The circus she joined is sort of a combination circus and carnival, not what I generally think of as a circus. It sounds completely awesome and frankly makes me want to run away and join the circus myself
Elizabeth Norris
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best contemporary YA novels I've read. Authentic, original, and page turning, I swept through this novel in one sitting.
Natalie (Natflix&Books)
Since I'll read pretty much anything that takes place at a circus, I knew I had to have this book as I saw that gorgeous cover (serious cover-love) and was thrilled when I saw it pop up on Netgalley. That Time I Joined the Circus follows teenaged Lexi's search for her mother after the death of her father. She and her father had been living in New York when he died and since his death has left her penniless and homeless, she hops on a bus to Florida to find the circus she believes her mother has ...more
Vi ~ Inkvotary

Style and Language
This novel is a decent story about loss, the search for a place to be and that a family can be found even where you won´t expect it.

J.J. Howard has this novel written from the point of view from her main figure Lexi. The plot goes back and forth in time of a certain period in Lexis life. The protagonist tells the reader her story before and after her father’s sudden death. How she was dumped by her school principal and her friends, what mistakes she had made and other things.
Jenny Sawyer
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
That Time I Joined the Circus joins the ranks of a growing collection of circus-centric fiction, all of which, almost to a book, have disappointed me.

And yet, I find myself going back for more, as was the case with this YA title featuring an alienated, music-obsessed teen New Yorker whose father’s unexpected disappearance (view spoiler) coincides with a misstep with her guy best friend (which is never explained in full detail but is hinted at heavily throughout the story)
Apr 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya, plnnj-review
The book began in a promising way with a bit of a mystery but then never really delivered. Character development was flat more caricatures than characters. Plot points were questionable. She spends the night with her best friend from childhood, Eli, who is dating the only other friend Lexi has at her New York city private school. After her father dies suddenly, Lexi or Xandra (she goes by both names) goes looking for her mother at a circus in Florida but when she doesn't find her there, she gets ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Scholastic's 2013 debut of That Time I Joined the Circus should be met with fanfare and excitement. JJ Howard does an excellent job depicting a self-deprecating teen, Lexi, who has to find her long-absent mother rumored to be with a traveling circus.

Lexi finds the circus but not her mom. Left with no choices Lexi joins the crew of the circus and her journey to discover herself begins. When Lexi's past merges with her present she has to face accept the past and think about the future.

JJ Howard's
Lexi was a fun main character and I felt so badly for what happened to require her to look for her mom. It was hard to believe that she, as a minor, would be forced to look on her for her mom on her own, but putting that aside the story was quite interesting. I really enjoyed the circus parts of the book and would've liked even a little more that. The ending was good and wrapped everything up well without being too perfect. This was a good debut novel and I'd definitely read another book by this ...more
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I finally finished the book. I LOVED IT! I think the theme of this book is to always be positive. Even when you think all hope is lost, you need to see the bright side of things.
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Why I Loved It: One word people. Circus. CIRCUS! I love the circus. Actually, I should rephrase that. I love books about the circus. Actual circuses are really a little smelly and there are lots of people and I get all shaky. Thankfully I can experience the circus in a book and it's all good.

So anyways, this book. The book of awesomeness. Here is the run-down. Lexi has this one night of her life that changes everything, and it doesn't really seem like for the good. She manages to fool around wi

Originally Posted on Confessions of An Opinionated Book Geek

When opening, “That Time I Joined the Circus,” I was not sure what to expect. This book could have been an awful, melodramatic, silly mess. It’s not. It is one of the most enjoyable YA contemporary romance books I have ever read. It is 272 pages of excellent fun and entertainment.

Lexi Ryan is on the run. Her father has died, her best and only friend has abandoned her and she has no idea where her mother is. Enter Circus Europa in Florid
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, e-arc
BookNook — Young Adult book reviews

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
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Twins Read
Aug 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: michelle-s-shelf
This review can originally be found at The Twins Read.

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 sus
Momo (the Mome Rath)
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
The thing I love about contemporary is the more direct and realistic life lessons it hands out. Not that there isn’t a bit of wisdom to be found in science fiction or fantasy, just a different variety of it. THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS dishes out some hard to learn lessons in particular to our hero, Lexi, such as finding that people aren’t always who you think they are and that even good people can make terrible mistakes. People can do you wrong, and still be exactly who you need them to be. T ...more
Pixie/PageTurners Blog(Amber) C.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coveted-books
I'll admit it; it was the cover that drew me to this book. I am not a circus fan, but the lights, coloring and flying people made it look like a fantasy land and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

The story starts off with a bang. It alternates time frames and you know Lexi has had some issue in the past months but you aren't exactly sure what happen - this really drives the story. You want to know why this city girl ended up in the middle of a FL field waiting on the circus.

Lexi's life with
May 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-fiction
Cute but lacking in substance. You joined a CIRCUS. Gimme MORE CIRCUS.
Apr 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: netgalley
I was so excited to read That Time I Joined the Circus. The synopsis hooked from from the first sentence and I wanted desperately the read a sort of coming of age YA book mixed with the fun of a circus and great music. I thought it would be a mixture of something like Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist mixed with a modern day Water for Elephants based on the summary. And to some readers, I suppose it was. Unfortunately, That Time I Joined the Circus didn’t work for me and it fell flat.

That Time I
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Living in the circus is a pretty tough thing to do. At least that’s what Lexi — Alexandra? Xandra? X? Lex? well whatever her name is — thinks. What she doesn’t expect is finding her mother, making trustworthy friends, and a chance at true love. One thing you need to know about her is that she’s a magnet for boys. She literally made out with every boy in the circus. Well except one but that was because he disappeared all the time. The one she SHOULD HAVE stayed with was Nick. Cocky, charming, mys ...more
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J.J. Howard writes YA and MG books. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her assistant is named Willow—a miniature dachshund with a lot of great ideas—most of them involving dinner or at least snacks. Her books include the young adult novels THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS and TRACERS. Her middle grade novels include SIT, STAY, LOVE, Z ON LOCATION (an American Girls Book), PUGS AND KISSES, PUGS IN ...more

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