“That Time I Joined the Circus”—A Book Review

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That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard was a thoughtful tale that makes you take stock of the things around you.

Left with nothing, her father recently dead, her runaway mother being who-knows-where, Lexi is left with nothing but a bus ticket out of New York, a duffle bag’s worth of belongings, and word-of-mouth-hunch that her mother may or may not be with a traveling circus in Florida.

  When Lexi arrives at the Europa Circus in Florida and discovers her mother is not there, she is out of options. She has no money, no food, and no place to sleep. Taking pity on her, the Ringmaster offers Lexi a job, and crew quarters to sleep in.

Having no one in the world to count on or talk to (her old best friends in New York abandoned her), Lexi has no choice but to make the best out of a completely crappy situation. Learning to break out of her shell , Lexi makes true friends, has a shot at love, and learns that the word “home” doesn’t necessarily mean a building or a particular place, but rather, it can mean being with the people you love, no matter where you are geographically.

Told in back and forth present and past tense, this novel really makes you take a look at how you view and live life. Sometimes life is crappy, merely because we don’t have the guts to do anything to change it. And sometimes crappy things just happen, but how you react to it is entirely up to you.

I give this insightful story four out of five stars.

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“The Future of Us”—A Book Review

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The Future of Us written by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler was kind of a letdown for me.

I won’t say it was horrible, because it wasn’t. It was really well written and smart, but all-in-all I just felt kind of “meh” about it.

The setting is the year 1996, when the internet is just becoming prominent and not many people have their own computer in their home. Emma received a computer from her dad for her birthday (sort of a guilt gift since they don’t see each other often since the divorce) and she uses her neighbor Josh’s AOL CD to create an email address. Then a mysterious website pops up on her computer prompting her to enter her email address and password.

The website is facebook, which wasn’t founded until the year 2004. On facebook, Emma sees the profile and constant status updates of her future self. She gets excited and wigged out by this all at the same time and soon calls Josh over for examination. The two quickly become obsessed with their future selves’ profiles and constant status updates and changes.

The thing is, Josh future is pretty ideal and awesome. Emma’s, not so much.

The duo soon discover that they can change their future statuses by making minute and resolute decisions in their current lives. Emma keeps doing things or making mental decisions NOT to do something so that her future status will change. Josh gets kind of annoyed at this, because he doesn’t want the decisions that Emma is making to affect his seemingly perfect future. This goes back and forth in switching narrations from Josh and Emma’s points of view for the entire novel.

It was weird (and kind of surreal) to hear all of the 90’s references in the books about things that children of the 90’s grew up with (like walkmans, for example). But truthfully, I think the references are way lost on today’s generation of young adults. The people most likely to pick up and read this book are teenagers—since this is a teen book—and they were mostly raised in the 21st century, which is rapidly becoming overcome with the latest technological advances.

Like I said, the book wasn’t complete crap, but it just didn’t “wow” me. I guess my standards were set pretty high for Jay Asher after reading his debut novel, 13 Reasons Why. I give this book 3 out of five stars, mostly just for the fact that it was well written.

 

I did find this to be a very amusing quote, because it helps to paint the picture of how diluted and relevant personal connections have become.

“Why does it say she has three hundred and twenty friends?” Josh asks. “Who has that many friends?”