Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

I knew this was going to be a tough read for me. I’ve never liked zoos or circuses with animals. I knew based on the period that there were no protections like today, and I suspected the book would tear me apart. But then Alzheimer’s was introduced. I carry the early onset gene from both of my parents. So I have trouble reading ebooks because my memory doesn’t process what I’m reading well. But I read this in paperback, and I’ve processed every moment, even when my fears were right there on the page, even when the book broke me into pieces.

The blurb is misleading because it doesn’t touch the heartache that pours out of this book. I never read reviews before I read a book, but something told me I needed to, so I’m glad I did. I thank other reviewers for letting me know what I was getting into before reading because I had to set this book down a lot. If anything, August’s character could have been portrayed without all the violence against the animals. We know something is wrong without that. As an empath, it broke my heart time and again. Despite that hurt, this story is beautiful, and if you can get past the pain, it’s worth reading.

Read and like this review on Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

Water for Elephants is available on Amazon (enrolled in KU), Bookshop, and B&N.

About the Book:

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford. 

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