Nov 19, 2009

Review | Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Thoughts:The book starts off with 90 (or is it 93?) year old Jacob.

From the moment I started reading it, I really enjoyed it. Although it took me a few weeks to actually finish it, it wasn't because it was no good, but because of lack of time. I did really love this book.

The story goes from the past to the present every few chapters, and Gruen's writing style makes this transition between times easy to follow. It adds more depth to the story, as well as a making the reader curious to learn more. I was happily surprised with the ending, and the way the story led up to it was very nicely done.

There are many different things going on throughout the book, and the characters are so well described and their feelings so well drawn up, that it kept me coming back for more.
I did hear a few complaints about the animal cruelty that is written in this book, but although I in no way support it, I think it makes the story a lot more realistic. I must admit though, those scenes were a bit tough to read.

Overall, I thought this book was really well written, a really great and unique story and setting, as well as greatly detailed characters. I would recommend this to older young adults and adults who enjoy fiction.


  1. I still can't get over how much I love and am jealous of your new layout.
    I'm with you about the animal cruelty - I thought it was horrible (I mean, I'm a vegan, of course I hated it), and it made me want to vomit, but it was also just part of the story, and it added to it.
    I loved this book!

  2. This is one of my favorite books of all time. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


  3. I read this a few years ago and absolutely adored it! Definitely one of my favorites. :)