March Book Review

This month’s review is by Catherine Adde

Water for Elephants

by Sara Gruen

It’s wonderful when a movie based on a book is well done. In this case, I much preferred the book!

This big, atmospheric tale is told by ninety-three year old Jacob Jankowski and flicks back and forth between the present day, where he resides in a convalescent home, to the depression era and his life with the circus he joined on impulse as a young man.

The outrageous Benzinni Brothers (Traveling) Circus includes: villainous crooks as owners, hobos who ride the rails, the love of Jacob’s life – Marlena – a beautiful, sequined, star performer, and an elephant named Rosie that Marlena and Jacob grow protective of.

These engaging characters, lovingly brought to life by this author, and their tale, is as finely crafted as a piece of art. The ending has a delicious surprise where one thinks: “Well, why not?”

Ms. Gruen’s vision and talented writing, which was steeped in realistic descriptions of Jacob’s world (past and present), created tangible, bittersweet feelings that lingered long after I stopped reading. For those sensitive to the treatment of animals, a few passages in this story may cause dismay, however, it is redeeming to visit the author’s website where her work for endangered species is noted, as well as her support of independent booksellers and libraries.


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