Water for Elephants

Author: by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006)
Posted: Friday, July 25, 2008

A friend passed along her copy of Water for Elephants, telling me I just had to read it. I had heard good things about the book, and when I started reading I couldn’t stop, and I have since passed the book along to another friend.

I was enthralled by the story of Jacob, now an old man as he recounts his youth. After his parents died in an accident, he decided to drop out of veterinary school and join a traveling circus.

There, he is hired to care for the animals. Of course, he also encounters a menagerie of oddballs and people who seem lost and beaten (both physically and emotionally), including the wife of his violent boss. He quickly falls in love with her.

Of course, this synopsis doesn’t capture the many nuances of this extraordinary tale of adventure, love and a boy who grows into a man. The characters, as unsavory as some may be, come alive on the page. The story is very engrossing.

This book is definitely worth picking up. In fact, I plan to read some of Sara Gruen’s other novels next, Flying Changes or Riding Lessons.

Reviewed by Betty Hansen of Newburgh

Categories: Page Turners

Tags: water for elephants,book review

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