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Bookclub-in-a-Box Presents: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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Bookclub-in-a-Box Presents: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  175 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Running away with the circus is one of the world’s most enduring and romantic ideas. However, the reality of circus life during the Depression era was hard and painful. Jacob Jankowski, now over ninety years old, looks back on that time of desperation, cruelty and prejudice, but at the same time, he recalls a magical atmosphere, the animals, the larger-than-life circus ...more
Paperback, 84 pages
Published April 7th 2008 by Bookclub-In-A-Box (first published December 17th 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 22, 2010 Arebella rated it it was amazing
A truly rare find - a novel that had me from the first line: "I am ninety. Or nintey-three. One or the other." I was immediatley engrossed in Jacob's lives - one at twenty three, as the veterinarian for a traveling circus; the other as an old man in a nursing home, facing the end of his life. In most cases, switiching back and forth between these "Jacobs", would be merely a literary device and quite distracting to the reader. In this case, it's a brilliant use of a literary device to anchor the ...more
I tead this book when it first came out. Apparentlu I am one of the few that did not like this book. I found the treatment of the animals offensive and the story line just plain sad. One of my nurse friends agreed. l see this stuff all day at work and do not find it entertaining
Sep 22, 2010 Mary rated it it was amazing
This book was great! I could not put it down and literally read it in one day. It was adventurous, fun, suspenseful, and also sad at times. But it was a great, easy read and I will definitely look for other books by this author.
Feb 01, 2011 Helen added it
riveting story, unusual and historically interesting setting, great character development, beautifully written...
Joan Thompson
Aug 01, 2011 Joan Thompson rated it it was amazing
I wasnt too sure when I first started this book but as I got into it I couldn't put it down. The ending is just perfect for this book. I would recommend to anyone who enjoys reading.
Jan 04, 2015 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Loved it! Been a long time since I stayed up too late because I was reading. Cover to cover in two sittings.
dawn Hartfelder
Such a cool book! Loved it! Nothing i would have normally picked up, but it was selected by a book club. Learned "Don't judge a book by its cover". This was great.
Feb 17, 2014 Jennibeemine rated it liked it
First, the book has flawless characterization. The writing stays true to the world and the characters inside it; everything everyone does down to the last detail feels incredibly real and human.

This concept is driven even deeper home with the excellent voice actors (if you listen to the audio book) used to narrate the story. It was almost the equivalent of watching their lives through an open window – I could see and hear everything, though I was only an active observer rather than a participant
Brittany Woolard
Aug 28, 2016 Brittany Woolard rated it really liked it
Shelves: show-me-the-luv
This was the first dramatic romance novel I have ever read and it wasnt so bad. I usually stick with fantasy fiction but found an in-between period where I couldnt find a series or book in my genre to read. This book was slow in some spots but I enjoyed the audio version- the readers switch back and forth because the story is told from the same man but at 2 different stages of his life. The young Jacob is read by a younger man and the older Jacob is read by an old man- very reflective of what's ...more
Elly Wendy
Oct 30, 2016 Elly Wendy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5* Incredible. Beautiful. This one hooked me and reeled me in. Sometimes I had tears in my eyes. Such harshness, cruelty, brutality, yet equal human decency and kindness, and a strong story. What would happen next? It is so well written and performed that when it finished I started it again -- and found I got more out of it the second time. Very impressive. I’ll be looking for more by Sara Gruen. Good one!
Linda Harkins
Sep 18, 2010 Linda Harkins rated it it was amazing
I learned more than I thought I ever needed to know about the circus! A well-written, enchanting, behind-the-scenes look at life in a traveling circus, Water for Elephants is set in Depressin-era America. Until I'd read this, I'd never considered the importance of an elephant to the circus menagerie.
Jun 13, 2012 Maria rated it it was amazing
I really wasn't sure I'd like this book, because I had this thing about clowns after seeing Poltergeist when it first came out. I went ahead and started the book just to see, and I was hooked by the beginning of the first chapter! I have also seen the movie.I really think the book is so much better. Isn't that usually the case?I highly recommend it.
Aug 21, 2011 Dawn rated it really liked it
I probably would not have read this if a movie had not been made. I have not seen the movie and probably wont because it would ruin the book. The story was great, going back and forth in time, flowed smoothly. It had a little of everything romance, mystery,evil versus good, and in the end a happy ending. My favorite kind of book.
Feb 12, 2011 Christine rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book for several reasons! I enjoyed how the story was told in both the past and the present. I also learned a great deal about the travelling circus and the history of them. The book was an easy read and flowed very well.
Emily Von pfahl
Before I began this book, I was filled with some trepidation. A story set during the Great Depression about circus folk? I was convinced it was going to be sad. I'm so glad that I read it anyway. Funny, poignant, informative, and entertaining.
Apr 19, 2016 Podaire rated it liked it
Great history of Circus life in 1920's, 1930's, expecially during the depression. Different love story entiwined with the book. The protagonist is telling the story from a rest home @ 90 years of age. The writer does a great job thinking through what people might experience in a care center @ 90.
Feb 28, 2015 JohnW rated it it was amazing
A page turner magnifique. Actually I did the audio book thing at bedtime to help get me to sleep After going through to 4 AM I decided to show more discipline the next day. Absolutely loved it despite the unpleasant places it took me at times.
Dec 20, 2012 Ipek added it
Such a great read. I read it within one day.. A beautiful love story and a boo of adventure and passion.
Sheree La Puma
Oct 29, 2012 Sheree La Puma rated it really liked it
Loved, loved, loved this book. It really captured my imagination. I read it before the movie came out and have to say the book, as usual, was much better.
Thea Ritchie
Thea Ritchie rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2011
Antonia Stanean
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Mar 30, 2013
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Nov 29, 2016
Tammy rated it really liked it
Jun 14, 2011
Mj Netzer
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Jun 25, 2015
Trent Albright
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Apr 20, 2013
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Mar 03, 2013
Retzib rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2011
Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2013
Erika Cleven
Erika Cleven rated it it was amazing
May 23, 2015
Joan Any
Joan Any rated it really liked it
Apr 01, 2015
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marlena and Rosie 1 9 Jan 24, 2011 03:34PM  
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As an educator, school librarian, writer, book-talk presenter and facilitator, Marilyn loves to read and talk about books. Her enthusiasm for reading and sharing led her to unite her two favorite things: people and pages. In turn, this led to the creation of Bookclub-in-a-Box, the ultimate discussion companion for contemporary works of literary fiction. Marilyn is always looking for a great debate ...more
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