Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Summary Provided by Goodreads:
Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out - orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive 'ship of fools'. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act - in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

My Thoughts:
I’m one of those people that WILL judge a book by its cover. I’m kind of snotty like that. When I’m at the bookstore looking for a book to buy I only pick up books that 1. Someone told me was good, or 2. If I think the cover is pretty. Every time I was in Target I would skip right over Water for Elephants because 1. I hadn’t really heard anything about it and 2. I thought the cover was ugly. As soon as I saw the movie tie-in edition, I knew I was going to read it! I thought the new cover design was beautiful! Despite the ugly first cover, Water for Elephants should not be missed! It is a beautifully written story with a lot of heart and soul.  The prologue will completely captivate you and you will be hooked from page one!

The story begins with a 90 year old, who also could be 93, he doesn’t actually remember how old he is, named Jacob Jankowski. Jacob is your typical old man. He’s seen too much in his life to give a crap what people say and think. From the first line Jacob spoke, I knew I loved him. He was sarcastic and funny, but also sad and lonely. His wife died a few years before, and his children and grandchildren only visit him in the nursing home for a few hours on Sunday. All Jacob has left are his memories of working for a circus when he was 23 years old (Rob Pattinson played young Jacob in the movie and it was wonderful having to picture him as Jacob. It was a beautiful sight!).

At 23, Jacob is about to graduate veterinary school and go on to work for his father caring for animals. When his parents die in a car accident, he learns that his parents left him with no money and the bank repossessed their home (it takes place during the depression, and the Jankowski’s were struggling along with everyone else). Jacob, having no where to turn, jumps unto a moving train and in this moment his life will change forever.

Water for Elephants has an amazing cast of characters that all bring something to the story. Jacob meets the beautiful, Marlena, her charming, but sadistic husband, August, as well as many others that all shape Jacob’s life one way or another. Even the animals play a huge role in his life!

I think my favorite part of this story was the last few pages. Not because it was over, but everything came together so beautifully. We last see Jacob as his 90 or 93 year old self, and you will not be disappointed on how his life will turn out.

Water for Elephants is a must read! I just hope the movie will do this amazing book justice!

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