Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants: A Novel

Book: Water For Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Genre: Literary/Contemporary
Publish Date: April 9, 2007
Length: 350 pages
How long it took me to read it: 1 week
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Normally, I avoid any book that has animals in it, because chances are at some point an animal is going to get hurt, and my poor heart can't handle it when animals get hurt. Even if it's fiction, which this book is.

But the story in this book is so compelling that within the first couple of pages, I decided that regardless of what happened to any animals in the book, I would be reading it cover to cover. Which I say figuratively, since I read it on my Kindle for $5, which is a steal if you ask me.

Water for Elephants is the fictional, Depression-era account of a young man, who through certain circumstances that I won't ruin for you, finds himself working for a traveling circus. The story is told from the perspective of the young man, Jacob, who is now an old man living in an assisted living facility.

The narration goes back and forth between old Jacob and young Jacob, and while Young Jacob's story of circus life, wonderful animals, strange characters, and torrid romances are riveting, I was also drawn in by Old Jacob. He describes his new life of easily-chewed meals served at tables with a gaggle of widows, and his slowly fading ability to remember firstly how old he is and exactly what it is he's doing there. He's been left there by his grown children, all of whom have their own problems and can't take him in. For anyone who's ever had to move an elderly parent or grandparent into an assisted living facility, this narration is particularly poignant.

I prefer not to ruin any of the rest of the story for you but encourage you to simply read this novel, which I found heartwarming and heartbreaking and just lovely.

My next review will be on Origins; How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, by Annie Murphy Paul. It's fascinating! 

P.S. They are making Water for Elephants into a movie (April 2011), which I have mixed feelings about. Some of the actors sound like the perfect choice, but others ... not so much. I won't ruin it for you but if you want to know more, click here.


  1. I already sort of commented on this post via facebook, but felt the need to come here and tell you that I commented via facebook.


  2. I have to read this book. Soon. I know I will love it and I want to read it before I see the movie.

  3. i didnt read this post because i didnt know if there were spoilers? im on the 3rd chapter-ish right now!

  4. Katie - it's super cheap on amazon, I think you can get it for like $8.

    Holly - I tried to make it as spoiler-free as possible!

  5. ok, will re-read now! hahah :)

  6. AWWWWWWWWW I LOVE this book so much!! SO MUCH!!

    But... a movie?!? Hmmmmmmm... I dunno

  7. OK, I'm probably 1 of, well, 1 people that had a hard time getting into this book. But by the time I got about half-way through, I really did enjoy it.

    And the movie? Yeah, I'm not so sure either...

  8. She Said - You are definitely not the first to tell me they didn't enjoy this book as much as I did. Guess I'm easy!! :-) But Robert Pattinson, NOOOO!