Monday, December 12, 2011

Review: 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.(Goodreads)


My Thought
Water for Elephants was one of books in my wishlist. I was so excited when this historical fiction book finally arrived. Big thanks to Bukumoo Satu Dua Tiga. Since I saw the rating and read many good things about it, I could not wait any longer to read it on my own. Most of my friends said that Water for Elephants was one of the best book ever. Unfortunately, same words did not come out of my mouth.

To my surprise, it was not as great as I thought.
I was little bit disappointed with what I got. I think I expect too much.  There was nothing wrong with the book actually. It was well written. But It was hard for me to find the ties with the plot, setting nor the characters. All of them were flat for me.

Jacob Jankowski is the main character and narrator. In his nineties, he stayed in nursing home. He could barely remember things. But when it was about 
circus, he was able to summon it into mind with its details. Jacob was just twenty three when he left final exams in Cornell University and joined Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. In this place, the new chapter of his life began.

I liked the old Jacob. He became one reason why I finished reading its last page. From all the chapters, my favorite was his part. Althought he was not a nice old man, but he got his own charm.  I liked the way he talked and communicated to Rosemary,the nurse who took care of him. I enjoyed all their chit chats. Unfortunately, there was only few of them.

About the young Jacob and other characters, there was almost no emotional bond. Although Jacob in circus was lovely and kind-hearted, but I could not get him. His relationship with Marlene was not interesting enough to hook me. The antagonist character such August and Uncle Al also did not leave any impression. Even when I have given more chances by reading it till the last pages, I felt nothing for them.

Before reading Water for Elephants, I have read some books which took circus as its setting. But through Jacob's eyes, I found many new things about circus life in the past. All those things make me wonder which one that really happened in the past and the one that was just added by Sara Gruen, the author. I was also curios about the "red-lighted" and stampede.

I am not really interested with that kind of cover. I like the color choice. 


Author: Sara Gruen
Paperback: 355 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 9, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1565125606
ISBN-13: 978-1565125605
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches