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

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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.

About J.J. Howard

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J. J. Howard is wearing headphones right now, most likely. She graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in English and Tiffin University with an MH in Humanities. She lives in Florida, and has been some of her students' favorite English teacher for a quite a few years (she even has a mug somewhere to prove it). THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS is her first young adult novel. Contact her at
Published April 1, 2013 by Point. 272 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for That Time I Joined the Circus

Kirkus Reviews

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After high school senior Lexi's dad dies, she's forced to head for Florida, where her long-absent mother might be working for a circus.

Mar 18 2013 | Read Full Review of That Time I Joined the Circus

Publishers Weekly

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Howard’s well-paced debut is a contemporary twist on the old-fashioned notion of running away from home to join a circus—17-year-old Lexi would much rather still be living with her musician-father, Ga

Feb 18 2013 | Read Full Review of That Time I Joined the Circus

City Book Review

Dazed and confused, it seems the wheels are coming off her little circus wagon.

Apr 11 2013 | Read Full Review of That Time I Joined the Circus


A recent character that I wrote this past year was very good at math, which I always wished for (because I was so incredibly bad at math!) I’ve also written about living in New York City, which I always wanted to do, being able to sing… it’s a way to live out alternate lives.

Apr 01 2013 | Read Full Review of That Time I Joined the Circus

Gr 9 Up—Lexi's dad just died, leaving her alone and penniless in New York City. His lawyer tells her where to find her mother: if Lexi hurries, she can still catch up with the circus her mom was traveling with. Unfortunately, when Lexi arrives in Florida, the circus is still there-but her mother ...

Jun 01 2013 | Read Full Review of That Time I Joined the Circus

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