Leila's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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's review
Jan 02, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: own, general-fiction, lovestory, north-america, read-in-2010, read-in-swedish, thought-provoking
Recommended to Leila by: TNBBC
Recommended for: Anyone interested in animals, circus or just want something different
Read from May 24 to June 07, 2010 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Setting: United States

I first heard of this book through TNBBC nearly two years ago and was intrigued by the rather positive reviews it was receiving. A circus and animal-themed book just didn't seem that interesting to me. I purchased my own copy but like many of the books that I buy, it somehow end up dusting on the bookshelves instead of being read. A year later, I heard that there was a film in the making (and with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in the cast!) and decided that it was about time for me to pick it up and read.

I read. I gasped. I flailed. I was on the brink of tears and laughter (but mostly tears) and I was completely taken by the story. I was moved by the characters and the descriptions of the nasty conditions at the Benzini Brothers Circus and absolutely appalled at the gruesome treatment of both animals and workers. You could tell that Gruen is a very avid animal lover. One scene could reflect how sweet and innocent animals could be (I would be lying if I said that I wasn't grinning at the scene where the elephant Rosie was happily chewing food on someone's private vegetable patch or whenever the chimpanzee Bobo's needed a hug and a hand to hold) and the other scene could have you wanting to pull out a character (mostly August) from the pages and simply strangle said character for the awful and terrible animal treatment. On the other page, you would have workers who were working to their very last sweat drop until they were weak or complaining enough to be thrown of the train in the middle of the night. Not to mention, the characters! And love plot (triangle drama, oh my!)!

This book was a fantastic reading experience. I recommend it very much. I'm trying to figure out why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 (it was a while since I read it) and I can't seem to remember but alas, do give this book a try. Especially if you like general fiction or would like to try something new and more original.


"When you are five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties, you know how old you are. I'm twenty-three you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties, something strange starts to happen. It is a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm--you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you are not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it."

"Age is a terrible thief. Just when your getting the hang of life, it knocks your legs out from under you and stoops your back. It makes you ache and muddies your head and silently spreads cancer throughout your spouse."

"I stroke her lightly, memorizing her body. I want her to melt into me, like butter on toast. I want to absorb her and walk around for the rest of my days with her encased in my skin. I lie motionless, savoring the feeling of her body against mine. I'm afraid to breathe in case I break the spell."

"Dear God. Not only am I unemployed and homeless, but I also have a pregnant woman, bereaved dog, elephant, and eleven horses to take care of."

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Reading Progress

05/24/2010 page 1
0.28% "I bought this book about 1½ year ago. I figured since they are now making a film, I'd better start reading it. It could be my USA entry for Read The World (although I did want Percy Jackson instead...)."
05/26/2010 page 40
11.36% "Right now, I'm more interested in the photos from each chapter than the actual story. So pretty pictures!"
06/04/2010 page 102
28.98% "Getting very interesting but man those living conditions are awful. For both the animals and workers."
06/06/2010 page 145
41.19% "This is sad and horrible :("
06/07/2010 page 315
89.49% "Oh my god, shit, ahh, omg...?! *reads on*"
06/07/2010 page 352
100.0% "For once, a very satisfactory ending."

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