Monday, June 21, 2010

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Many, MANY people told me to read this book. For some reason I avoided it like the plague because it just seemed like it would be boring. But I will tell you now, I have never been so happy to be proven so wrong. Coming from me, that says a lot.

This book is slightly like The Notebook in the sense that it switches between past and present and is told through the eyes of 90 year old (or 92…or 93…he's not sure) Jacob Jankowski. When he was 21 Jacob's parents were killed in an auto accident the week of his final exams for Veterinary School. Like it would with anyone, this tragic event changed the course of Jacob's life. After the accident, he ran away and joined the Depression Era Circus (The year is 1931). I am a total sucker for historically accurate details, and it is clear that Sara Gruen has spent her time researching the way animals were kept, treated, and the general atmosphere of working in a circus during this time period. At times you will smile, but at many other times it will break your heart. You listen to Jacob's journey and the characters he meets along the way. While reading this, I got such a vivid picture from Gruen's details that you will start to get strong feelings (whether good or bad) about each person. I completely fell in love with Jacob as a character. He fights for the good of the animals and the performers in the show, especially an elephant named Rosie that the circus acquires along the way and her eventual human sidekick performer, Marlena.

I get a lot of people who ask me for book suggestions, and this is always at the top of my list. Whenever someone reads this they always come back to me to say they love it, and what a great suggestion it was. Believe me when I tell you that like me, you will not be disappointed by this book.

Posted by Amy


  1. This book was recommended to me as well. It was great because I was so immersed in the story I wanted to find out what would happen next. But at the same time, there are a lot of disturbing things in the book, especially things dealing with the animals. As I read the book, I was torn as to whether I liked it or not, but I really liked the ending. So I think all in all, it was worth the read. Definitely a great story. Just difficult at times.

  2. It's probably in my top 3 favorite books currently. I don't know why I was SO against reading it in the first place but I just loved the characters and the story. While it was sad to hear about the animals, it was nice to know at least one person was trying to take care of them.