Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Water For Elephants

One week before his final exams at veterinary school, Jacob Jankowski's parents are both killed in a car crash. He returns home to bury them, and discovers that they've left him nothing, not even his father's veterinary business--his parents had mortgaged everything to pay for his tuition at Cornell. Desperate and unsure what to do next, Jacob walks onto a traveling circus looking for work. During his time at the Benzini Brother's circus, Jacob learns that the circus is a culture in and of itself--a whole new vocabulary and new rules. Soon, Jacob falls in love, and puts himself and others into danger far more extreme than he imagined.


Let me be honest--for awhile, it felt like everyone I knew was reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Yet, I had absolutely NO interest in reading it! I think that I had the plot line of the book confused with another, but I was just convinced that it was a book I wouldn't enjoy. However, a few friends of mine who have similar taste in books just kept recommending it to me, and one offered to loan me her copy. I went ahead and started it, and COULD. NOT. PUT. IT. DOWN.

If nothing else, this book is a fascinating look into circus life, which is something that few outsiders ever truly have the opportunity to experience. Gruen obviously researched meticulously, which helps this book to feel real, even when it's outlandish.


  1. I read "Water for Elephants" years ago, when it was first released. 2006? The sudden popularity of it has really taken me by surprise. Excellent book, though.

  2. Confesion? Been waiting for this one! :) and Glad to read it's Read Worthy.
    So...on my way to the Book store, TTYL ;)

  3. I was skeptical about jumping on this band wagon too but oh my gosh, so glad I did! Great book...hard to read at times [I'm a huge lover of animals] but still excellent. The movie, believe it or not, is just as good which is hard to say. I read the book a long time ago so I can't be certain all the details were spot on. But I still really enjoyed it.

  4. That was totally my experience with this book! I felt like EVERYONE was reading it forever, but every time I read the synopsis it just didn't seem interesting to me at all! I put it on reserve at the library at least 2x, but cancelled it both times because I just wasn't interested in reading it.

    Recently, it was recommended to me for the umpteenth time and that coupled with the fact that I knew the movie was out and Reese Witherspoon was in it (love her!) and I wanted to see it, but I like to read the books first because the movie is never as good as the book, I FINALLY read it a couple weeks ago and I LOOOOVED it! I can't believe I waited so long to read it!

  5. I loved this one! definitely an all-nighter! :)

  6. I LOVED this book. I didn't see the movie yet (because I have a 1 year old), but it's on my list.

  7. Good to know! I have wanted to read it for a while now but wondered if it was really that great! I would also like to see the movie, have you seen it?

  8. I read this book like 2 or 3 years ago after a friend raved about it.. I feel like the only person ever that didn't like it. I didn't think it was BAD, but it wasn't anything I would particularly remember (other than all sorts of online raves now..). Maybe I was just oblivious to some underlying theme? I don't know..

  9. I loved the movie and I can't wait to dive in to the book. Next on my list!

  10. I first read it a few years ago and loved it. I read it again last month and still really enjoyed it. Glad you liked it!

  11. I also had the book confused early on. I think I was thinking of The Glass Castle instead... but when I did pick up Water for Elephants I finished the whole thing on a 12 hour road trip - I really enjoyed it.

  12. This is one of my new favorites. I read it twice, about a year apart and I enjoyed it as much the second time.


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