Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

From 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 never had much interest in this book until recently.  The concept of it didn't grab my attention which is why I held off on reading it so long.  With the movie coming out, I started to hear more buzz about how amazing this book was so I decided to pick it up.  I am glad I read it so that I know what everyone was talking about but it did not 'wow' me at all.  The only character I cared about through the whole book was old Jacob.  I loved how things worked for him and I was glad that Gruen created two characters who actually cared about him since his family didn't.  The younger characters did nothing for me and I really never liked Marlena.  I felt like I was supposed to feel sorry for her but I just didn't.  I did like the descriptions of the animals and their personalities and the abuse they suffered really bothered me and the fact that the animals were abused made dislike the characters in the story even more.  I also didn't like that the ending was given away at the beginning of the story in a dream old Jacob had; since I knew what was going to happen, I cared even less about the past events and I paid more attention to old Jacob.  3 1/2 stars.

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