Friday, July 6, 2012

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out—orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive "ship of fools." It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act—in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

I was at the beach last week and I just happened to have finished the book I was reading, Hades, early. So in the beach house my family had rented, there was a rather large book shelf filled up with books and A LOT of mermaid stuff. So the family had Water for Elephants on the shelf, and I figured "Hey, circuses. Those are cool. Alright," and little did I know that I had just picked up probably one of my absolute favorite books! Readers, I finished this almost 400 page book in a day because I didn't want to have to leave the book behind at the house and not know what happens.

The one word I can come up with for this book is absolutely "Magical!" I have never been so wrapped up in a story book world, ever! It's like this story had a special connection with me, and I'm too scared to see the movie in fear of it ruining that magic for me. Everything was just beautiful and vintage, the books I love. I could almost smell the popcorn and hear kid's peals of laughter.

Jacob is a phenomenal character! Both in old and young form, he has gone through so much, but is still a fire-cracker. I want to be like him when I'm older: sarcastic, young and pure at heart, and with an attitude. His younger self is determined, very deep in emotion, passionate, and sweetly naive sometimes. Jacob face's danger and love that he's never felt before, but to readers, it's real and personal which is not easy to express through prose. And Older Jacob's flashbacks are languid, vivid, and not out of place. There was even more of a connection between his two lives than, even, in The Notebook.

This book haunts me now. The text is so buttery rich,  and the love story is so passionate. Marlena (I love that name by the way) is sometimes pitiful, but she can be strong and fire-y. She's a good character for younger women because she puts herself and her love first despite the disagreements of the people around her. She is even strong enough to get out of an abusive relationship even though the guy practically kidnaps her back. She has even lived without a family. Even though it is a timeless romance, BEWARE YOUNGER READERS!!! This is Not a Young adult story! There are vivid descriptions of adult content, a lot of foul language, and brutality. I wouldn't recommend anybody this book who was sensitive to this content. It can get very raunchy at times.

In the end, I cannot tell you how much this book has changed my view on reading. Reading has always been my great love, but I have never read anything quite like this and it is extraordinary! The ending was surprising, and very satisfying, for this type of book. Usually adult books have large impacts on the characters that kind of ruin the happy ending the reader wants, but not in this case. There is still a lot to sort out and things definitely change, but that's all I'm saying. So, readers, Please read this story if you're even the least bit interested because I will never shake the memory of the feeling I had when I read this rare, beautiful, jewel of literature.
Plot: 5/5 stars
Cover: 3.5/5 stars
Love, Katie

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