Sara Gruen: Water for Elephants

by Rachel Baker on January 21, 2008

Water for Elephants is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. This book was mentioned several times in the House at Riverton book club I participated in; and was a huge seller during the holidays on Amazon. I figured even though it wasn’t a book I would normally pick up and start reading, I would give it a try.

I’m so glad I did!

The story setting was depression era circus life…more than intriguing! Sara Gruen did an amazing job with her research and the detail she outlined in the book. She was able to find a perfect balance of grisly and romantic. Gruen used that same “memory sequence” style of storytelling as The House at Riverton, Titanic, and Rebecca. Unlike The House at Riverton, the flips from past to present were seamless.

Gruen’s depiction of the narrator as a 98 year old man was awesome. She allowed the reader to understand the traumas of being “that old” as well as remind us there’s often a pretty amazing story to most of the older generation.

Each character had a function in the story, including the nursing home staff. There were no superficial characters and every single character helped you to understand “who” the main character was.

This was one of those fun reads that sucks you in and makes you wish the story could go on forever. I ended the book feeling like I wanted to join a circus, wanted a pet elephant, and wanted to work in a nursing home. All very strange, indeed! Its not often a book I read can make me want to do anything remotely close to those things.

AND… I didn’t write on one single page! Of course, I’m going to re-read Water for Elephants, and probably make notes the next time around.

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