Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Water for Elephants

I just finished Sara Gruen's contemporary classic Water for Elephants. It was recommended to me by my good friend Kelli Buttars. She's an avid reader and has good taste in books so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'd seen the book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and, at one time, almost bought it, but for some reason or another I always put it back down, promising myself I would buy it the next time I came in.

Well, I am glad I finally gave in and purchased this book. It has romance, comedy, action, intrigue, dark secrets, and a charming elephant named Rosie. What more could you ask for?

When I finished The Greatest Knight I wanted a book that would just grab me and take me for a ride. Oddly enough I tried to plow through Atlas Shrugged. Wrong choice. When I started reading Water for Elephants I was immediately hooked. The main character, Jacob, is a veterinary student. At the beginning of the story his parents are killed in an accident which leaves him devastated. He leaves school, right in the middle of taking his final exam, and ends up on a circus train. Thus begins the adventure.

Intermingled in the narrative about Jacob's time with the circus, is an ninety-three year old Jacob in an old-folk's home. Gruen masterfully entwines the two stories together with parallels. I saw parallels, for obvious reasons, between old Jacob and Camel, the old and drunk cripple who befriends the young Jacob, and not so obviously between Rosie and Old Jacob. There are other parallels that I saw but they might be spoilers so I better not put them in the review.

The love between Jacob and Marlena is very believable. August and Uncle Al, as antagonists, are very easy to hate. I truly think, however, that the true star of the story is Rosie the elephant. I will just say this in order not to spoil the fun: She makes it possible for Jacob and Marlena to be together. I love how Gruen gave each animal a personality. Rosie is a sweet creature with a cute little personality.

The character development in this book is fantastic. Each character becomes realistic. I really enjoyed the relationship between Walter, a circus clown, and Jacob. At first Walter hates Jacob but, by the end of the story, they become true friends.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an enjoyable adventure story that will stay with you.


  1. Glad that you enjoyed it! I couldn't have asked for a better ending! I loved how 90 or 93 year old Jacob still had his mind. Fantastic book. In my top 5!

  2. Thanks! I've been meaning to pick this one up at the library.