Joie M's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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Apr 28, 11

bookshelves: kindle, fiction, 2011
Read from April 25 to 28, 2011

I'd been eying this book in bookstores for some time before the movie (and the $5 Kindle price tag!) finally motivated me to read it. Unfortunately, I was left a little underwhelmed. Like a trip to the circus, it's all enchanting escapism--but there's not much nutritional value in that pile of cotton candy fluff you're holding. I thought the book told a great story, but it did little to make me feel truly invested in the main characters. While the book follows aspiring vet Jacob Jankowski after the tragic loss of his parents leads him to quite literally run away and join the circus, I assume Marlena, one of the performers, is supposed to be an equally compelling character. But it's difficult to get any feel for her considering her personality is rarely described beyond loving her animals (an admirable quality, sure, but is that it?). We feel sorry for her, but I couldn't help but gag in some scenes, such as when she delightedly exclaimed, "Oh, Auggie!" when presented with jewelry from her abusive husband. The love story might've moved me more if it hadn't consisted solely of "You're so pretty, so I love you!" and "I'm codependent, so I love you!"

Okay, okay, I'm being harsh. I truly did enjoy the story, and some of the side characters--in particular, Walter and of course, Rosie--made it all the better. Flashbacks/forwards between the main story and 90-something Jacob's current living situation in a nursing home added another dimension to the book as well. There were few surprises here (not no surprises...), and some potential plot complications were a bit hastily dispatched. But fun for an easy, summer beach read. I'll be interested to see the movie. I'd give 2 1/2 stars but I suppose I'll have to round up.
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