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.
Have you ever read the book Ida B? Ida B...and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save The World (Yes, that's the whole title, though the stuff after the ellipsis is written in small font at the bottom of the front cover) by Katherine Hannigan. The best way I can describe That Time I Joined The Circus is that's its just as good as Ida B. Maybe better. Actually, better, because I rated the former 3/5 and the latter 4/5.
I'm not sure what I liked about this story - it follows Lexi, a lonely girl with nothing and no one, a she joins the circus and ends up finding a home - but this is the kind of book I'll like to buy the print version of and put it next to all my other yet-to-be-bought good books on an actual, tangible shelf (kindle shelves so don't count). It's a story of self-discovery, full of sentences that absolutely beg to be quoted and wonderful characters. Everything about this book is so...sappy. (It even has an epilogue! Bonus sap points for that...is sap even a word in that context?)
The setting is perfect. This is the first book I've ever read that has the circus as the main setting, and it was beautiful. The circus, the lights, the music, the hubbub in the dark, like I was really there. The characters are extremely likeable as well. When Lexi first gets to the circus, nobody accepts her and welcomes her with open arms, but she learns her way through, and befriends everybody there. The development of the relationships, and even the development of the secondary characters were done well. The secondary characters themselves were awesome. Also, the book cover is gorgeous. I'm definitely getting this book in print.
I had one big problem with this book, though. (This is the uh-oh part). Lexi is supposed to be going to college. This whole journey is taking place during the first half of her senior year. Why, then, does Lexi talk like she's still in middle school? (And she's the only one. Everybody else acts age-appropriate.) It's not any one quote or thing she said - it's how she thinks, how she reacts, like she's going into high school next year instead of college. Which is why I'd totally recommend this book for even the younger readers out there, as long as they realize that they shouldn't be acting like Lexi when they're going into college.
The book starts off slightly confusing, in a past/present back and forth way, and if you don't really pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter, you'll end up lost (and since I just skip over those dates, I was bewildered and confused for the first few chapters ;) But by the middle of the book, everything catches up, and the dates are no longer really that important, but I learned my lesson and continued to give half a mind to those dates. Lesson learned - read everything when reading a book.