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Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

So I picked this novel up in the airport as I was waiting to get on my flight to Orlando, mostly because it is coming out as a movie and I wanted to read it before seeing the movie.  That's my general rule after all.  And I was sorely disappointed.

In this historical novel, Jacob Jankowski, the protagonist, has left Vetrinary school at Cornell after suffering the loss of his parents, who have died in a tragic car accident.  He learns fairly quickly that his father, also a vet, was heavily in debt and actually died owing money.  So Jacob leaves school and his home and literally joins the circus. He travels cross country with the circus, acting as the show's vetrinarian and working under August, the head trainer and Uncle Al, the show's ringleader.  August is an interesting man, alternately charming and brutal.  He's also married to the beautiful Marlena, a performer, that Jacob forms a special bond with. This novel is about Jacob's relationship with Marlena, with the new elephant, Rosie and with Uncle Al.

There are definitely several themes that are prevalent in this novel, which are super easy to pick out.  Water is for cleansing, for instance and the train tracks are for choosing a life path. 

I was not impressed by this book at all.  The themes were easy to spot and the ending was just as easy to spot.  The characters were shallow and one dimensional and I found myself annoyed with them more often than I was intrigued by them.  I just didn't really like it - I kept expecting it to get better and it didn't. It was a complete and utter failure.


  1. Thank you! Everyone seems to LOVE this book, but I didn't feel it lived up to all the hype. It was very formulaic and predictable, and too easy for my liking.


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