Monday, August 22, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

BOOK REVIEW:Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water  for Elephants is written from the viewpoint of a 93 year old man named Jacob Jankowski, flashing between his nursing home experience and his life 70 years before. Through both time periods, you get to know and care for Jacob and those around him.

At 23, right before his final exams to become a veterinarian, his parents die, leaving Jacob with a mountain of debt. Depressed and with nothing to lose, he hops on a train, which happens to belong to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. With the circus, he both witnesses and experiences many raw and brutal acts. He falls in love with Marlena, his boss' wife, and forms unlikely friendships.

Animal lovers will appreciate Jacob's relationship with the circus animals. Truth be told, I had to force myself past the first 150 pages or so when Rosie the elephant joins the gang. She is intelligent and stubborn, and you want to scream out in frustration every time Austin--Jacob's boss and Marlena's husband--uses the bull whip on her.

At 93, Gruen does an excellent job at portraying to the reader the frustration Jacob feels at losing his independence. The nurses no longer see him as a person or give him choices, he is losing some of his memory, and he is slowly losing grip on reality. His old-man spunk is sure to make you smile.

The book is written in present time, which took some getting used to. Each chapter is split into sections, and at times I was reminded of the Old Spice commercials. "Now I am here." "Now I am here." These two things brought me out of the books at times, but otherwise it was rather well-written.

Overall, the book is a fun ride with an excellent ending. It could have done without the mountain of vulgar language and handful of explicit scenes, but I'd otherwise recommend it. This book needs an "R Rating" on the front for the pornography. Yeesh! But otherwise it was good. Hey, I may even see the movie on Blu-ray. I give it 4.2 stars for the creative storyline.

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