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.
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, Gavin, on Manhattan's Lower East Side, hanging out with best friends Eli and Bailey, downloading songs, and making music mixes. In this case, it's Lexi's long-absent mother who has apparently joined the circus. When Gavin dies unexpectedly, leaving his daughter penniless, her only option is to track down her mother in Florida. Failing to find her, Lexi gratefully accepts work with the Circus Europa. Howard effectively builds suspense by alternating chapters between Lexi's gradual adaption to an itinerant life with the circus and the earlier days in New York leading to Gavin's death; the author creates persuasive portraits of both cultures and includes the requisite romantic possibilities. Lexi's credible voice, tumultuous emotions, and passion for music are authentically adolescent, while her growing resilience adds a tough yet appealing streak to her character and keeps her future in doubt to the very last pages. Ages 12 up.