Michele's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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it was amazing

Now THIS is a Good Book!
When I finished reading Water for Elephants, goose bumps covered my skin. Now this is a good book! Immediately engrossed, I had a hard time putting it down as I read the story of Jacob Jankowski and his reminiscence of days with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth--otherwise known as a train circus in 1930's America.

A talented writer and storyteller, Sara Gruen takes readers on a bumpy and tense train ride through history. This tale defines Americana. There is no evidence of author here--simply narrator telling the story from Jacob's perspective (is he 91 or 93 years old?). I liked everything about the book, but primarily it was the crafting I liked best about this reading experience.

Seamlessly, Gruen weaves together the modern day voice of this old man, a Cornell-educated veterinarian, abandoned in a nursing home--a.k.a. assisted living facility--and his memories of three months spent as the accidental veterinarian on a traveling circus. Just before his final exams, he learns his parents have been killed in a car accident and this is what sets the story in motion. Once he hops aboard a train, which he soon learns is a circus train, he falls in love with a pink-sequined performer, Marlena, and battles her schizophrenic husband, August, who happens to be his boss. Jacob, a sensitive and innocent soul, is highly likeable and befriends most of the animals aboard. Most unforgettably is a "Polish" elephant by the name of Rosie. But he also endears himself to his roommate, a dwarf named Walter, and a stowaway named Camel. One can't help but root for Jacob through the entire story. And to my complete delight, it comes to a surprising and very satisfying conclusion.

This is an excellent novel and I give it my highest recommendation. Well done Sara Gruen!
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 1, 2006 – Finished Reading
June 20, 2007 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Tony A solid review Michele. I strongly agree with your comment that you never hear the author's voice, just a 90 something-year-old man with a past that more interesting than the life he's living. Gruen's solid frame, a man past usefulness, who is reluctantly bringing up an old memory that's mostly unpleasant, sets the pacing for the book, providing nice little breathers after Gruen drops in a plot twist that needs to be examined and savored.

Bravo Gruen and bravo Michele.


Michele Thank you Tony! Nice of you to drop a line.

message 3: by Vincent (new)

Vincent I absolutely loved this book, and I think that the ending was a perfect conclusion to a great book.

Bonnie Judd I read this for book club a friend years back. One of my favorites!!

message 5: by E.K. (new) - rated it 1 star

E.K. Koo gz cb

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