Emily's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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Mar 05, 08

bookshelves: i-own-it, funky-fiction, hersday-book-club, what-i-read-in-2008
Read in January, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is a story about Jacob Jankowski and his short time with The Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. The story is told in memory by Jacob from his 93 year old self in a nursing home. Just a week prior to graduating Cornell Veterinary School in the 193os, both of Jacob's parents are killed in a car accident. To distraught to finish his exams, Jacob jumps a train and realizes only afterwards that he has just run away with the circus. The leaders of the circus decide to keep Jacob on once they learn of his veterinary past and with The Benzini Brothers, Jacob meets a range of characters including Marlena, a beautiful horse rider, her mentally ill husband, August, a dwarf named Kinko, and an old timer named Camel. In time, the circus acquires an elephant named Rosie, who quickly becomes a friend to Jacob.

This book was the first book in the brand new Hersday book club. Which is why I read it, although I purchased it before it was chosen. I knew I wanted to read it.


... the scoring ...

** After reading the book, I decided that I didn't like Thomas Edison anymore. Although, that had nothing to do with the book, but the afterword, with a story about Thomas Edison publicly electrocuting an elephant to prove a point. - Neutral cause it wasn't the book itself.

** The ending was absolute perfection, and completely unexpected from my point of view. Even reading between the lines and analyzing it to death, it still makes me happy. - Plus 3

** One word ... elephants. - Plus 2

** Two words ... dwarf clowns. - Plus 2

** I have this personal issue with generic pet names. For example, Dalmatians named spot, and long haired cats named fluffy. It's only excusable when the pet owner is under the age of 6. The Benzini Brothers have a chimp named Bobo. It bothered me. - Minus 2

** Cool depression era photos begin every chapter. Aside from the brief embarrassment of a topless woman while reading on the bus, they were a great touch. - Plus 2

** While I appreciate the research that went into the book, the use of all of the circus terms like First of May and rubes were a nice touch, but they were totally overused. Almost to the point of annoyance. They seemed forced. - Minus 3

** I've read some people that disliked August's portrayal as inaccurate. But I think for a violently ill man, or even just an abusive husband, it was a fairly genuine portrayal. - Plus 4

** It was easy to relate with the characters' struggle at the end of the book, given the time it took place. The depression was felt throughout the story, and the reader felt how that complicated the situation. - Plus 4

** I had never heard of the Jamaican Ginger epidemic. It kind of broke my heart, but I'm glad I'm more aware now. - Plus 2

** My faith in humanity makes me doubt the legitimacy of the brutality of red-lining people. But maybe I'm just an optimist. - Minus 3

** Spoiler ... although not entirely unexpected, poor poor Camel. - Minus 2

** The book reminded me a great deal of Carnivale on HBO. A show that I absolutely love. - Plus 2

** But because it reminded me of Carnivale, I had a hard time not picturing Jake like Ben, and Marlena like Sofie. - Minus 1

** I'm secretly hoping Nick Stahl (aka Ben from Carnivale) will play Jacob in the newly optioned movie. - Plus 2

Final Score ... 12 ... sounds about right. I really enjoyed it, and I totally recommend it to everyone. Super quick read too.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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danielle I love this book! Dude! K... So I'm reading this for English. I got bored on the ride home from school, so I kept reading. The same exact thing that happened with you and the topless lady, happened to me today I'd say about... 8 hrs ago


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