Mini review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Water for Elehants by Sara Gruen
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: May 1st, 2007
Pages: 335
Rating: 4 stars

Orphaned, penniless, Jacob Jankowski jumps a freight train in the dark, and in that instant, transforms his future.

By morning, he's landed a job with the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he's in love.

In an America made colourless by prohibition and the Depression, the circus is a refuge of sequins and sensuality. But behind the glamour lies a darker world, where both animals and men are dispensable. Where falling in love is the most dangerous act of all...

I (re)read this for my English class and I absolutely loved being back in this world. It was also interesting to read it older, since I first read this when I was 13, and being able to discuss it with my class made me realize even more things about this that I hadn't noticed before. Water for Elephants was a hauntingly beautiful story from start to finish. Though past Jacob was a bit naive for my taste, I still really enjoyed reading from his POV, and thought present day Jacob was an absolute riot. If that doesn't make any sense, no worries: this book is told through two different storylines, present day Jacob in his nursing home, and then his past self as he navigates the circus. I loved how Gruen weaved them together, and was able to clearly tell who was who in each chapter. 
The ending was unbelievably satisfying and delightful, and I highly suggest anyone interested in reading an Adult tale about a Depression-era circus to read this! 

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