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Water for Elephants
Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, 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 carin...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9781565125605
ISBN-10: 1565125606
Publication Date: 4/9/2007
Pages: 350
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.

4.2 stars, based on 4755 ratings
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

bookaddicted avatar reviewed Water for Elephants on + 125 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 88
Believe the hype you have heard about this book. Gruen's characters leap off the page and into your mind they are so well concieved. Almost every element you could want in a book is here - humor, a bit of a mystery, drama, angst, terror, compassion. It is about relationships; human to human; human and animal. It's about falling in love in an instant. It's about history. It's about life with a traveling circus and all the various personalities that make up a community.

The only word of caution I have is that there are elements of animal cruelty portrayed if that makes you squeemish.
CocoCee avatar reviewed Water for Elephants on + 404 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 48
I almost didn't read this book because of the wait list (over 900 people!) and because my TBR pile is now a TBR mountain. I'm glad I did read it. Knocked it out in two nights. Memorable read.

Life was hard in the 1930's, there was no work, the stock market crashed. The romance and excitement of the traveling circus was the television of that time. Of course, the circus life itself was hard, gritty, and terrible. And always, underneath it all, one finds compassion.

This is a love story, between a man and a woman, between a man and himself.
Doughgirl avatar reviewed Water for Elephants on + 138 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 33
OK, First I must tell you that I don't really like circuses - at least the old fashioned kind. That's primarily because I had always heard that they mistreated their animals. This book did nothing but reinforce that opinion.

Even given that though, this is a VERY good book. Well researched with fascinating insight into the life of a 3rd rate travelling circus in during the Depression. The story and the action never slows down until the dramatic and surprising conclusion. And even though many of the characters were, frankly, nasty, the goodness and morality of the main character and others gives you hope.

Highly recommended. 4.5* (It would have been 5* if I had been a circus fan.)
cosmichomicide avatar reviewed Water for Elephants on + 134 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 26
Brilliant is an understatement - wonderfully plotted, well paced, characters with depth (both human and non). You can taste the popcorn and smell the hay. You worry throughout the book that things will turn out badly, but you know they simply can't. There should be more than 5 stars available.
jennala9 avatar reviewed Water for Elephants on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 25
Great book! I really wasn't all into it at first because I was not interested in Depression-era circus life. But I am telling you, as little as this interests you, this book is great and it will MAKE you interested in circus life. It's told by the main character when he is near the end of his days in a nursing home which makes it interesting since he is telling a story of his past.
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reviewed Water for Elephants on
Nicely written. Good for all adult ages.
easttexmerry avatar reviewed Water for Elephants on + 40 more book reviews
This is my second time reading this book. It is just like running away to be in the circus, if you lived in the Depression. The characters are marvelously real. I had a hard time putting this down, which was sad because I read it so fast!
ourbookaddiction avatar reviewed Water for Elephants on
My daughter has been asking me to read this book for years. I resisted because I read the synopsis and thought a story about a circus in the era of the great depression? Nah. I finally read it and gave it a go and couldnt put the book down. Seriously this is one of the best books Ive read in years! I felt like I was right there. The narrative shifts back and forth between old Jacob and young Jacob seamlessly. I strongly regret waiting so long to read this book. I would have paid full price. It is a haunting story and often had me thinking of my own aging. What will it feel like to be inside a body that is old and doesnt function like it used to, yet the mind still feels young?


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