Book Review by Aarene Storms: That Time I Joined the Circus

Saturday, November 30, 2013

That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard

17-year-old Lexi never considered leaving her home in New York City until her dad dies suddenly and leaves her almost nothing. With very little money and the vague notion that she should try to locate her long-gone mother, Lexi hops on a southbound Greyhound and hops off in front of Circus Europa, a smalltime show with exotic animals, trapeze artists, and some good-looking guys running the Hurricane Ride and helping to hoist up the tents.

Lexi is welcomed into the circus, and quickly makes more friends than she ever had back home. In fact, at least two of the guys seem very friendly ... and then Eli from New York turns up and the narrative changes direction again.

I wanted more from the story than it delivered. I wanted more about the exotic animals, but aside from learning that elephants are called "bulls" and that tiger cages smell bad, I didn't get much. There was not a lot of colorful background from the lives of the clowns, no reason to believe that the trapeze artists came from a family of fliers, not a lot of traditional wisdom passed down to the new grasshopper in town, and no real reason for handsome Nick to keep coming back to the circus to see Lexi.

The romance(s) were shallow, and Lexi's sudden realization of what she wants to do with her life was unconvincing at best.

No cussing, no on-page kissing, some references to off-page sexual activities, and at least one teen driving without a license.
Next time, I'll just re-read Water for Elephants.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true. --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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