Holli's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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's review
Aug 08, 11

bookshelves: historical-fiction, literary-fiction
Read in July, 2011

I wanted to like this one more than I did. It was interesting and the story kept me turning pages, but I didn't care about the characters as much as I wanted to. Other than the fact that Marlena looked good in pink sequins I didn't really understand why Jacob loved her so much. Gruen alluded to her skill with horses and if she had developed this a little more I probably would have admired Marlena more and thought she deserved Jacob's attention.

I liked Jacob--he was a very loyal and honorable man. But he reminded me a little bit of Richie Cunningham. I like Richie too, but he's a sitcom character--he's supposed to be one-dimensional. I guess I wanted Jacob to be a little more complicated. And part of me didn't believe that he had to join the circus. He had a string of bad luck, but was this really his only choice?

August was easy to hate--maybe a little too easy. He must have had some redeemable character trait. Was he just bad because he was a "paragon schnitzophonic" or was there something more? Did his mother love him?

And then there's Rosie. I really wanted to like her and it's not that I didn't like her, but like the other characters, Gruen just didn't give me enough.

That's why I sort of felt cheated at the end of the story. The ending surprised me, which was good I guess, but it also felt a little cheap. It could have been spectacular if I had cared more. When I really love a novel, I think about the characters when I'm away from them. I didn't think much about these characters. Gruen didn't let me inside their heads and hearts enough. It was more like reading an interesting story in a newspaper or magazine than reading a really good novel that you just can't put down.


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