The Mind Wobbles

So many things to absorb, think about, deal with and put up with - it simply makes the mind wobble...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Book Review: "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen


I wound up enjoying the book tremendously, more than I expected to when I started.

The story starts out slowly, but subtly draws you in until you are intrigued as to what's going to happen next. The world of circuses, at least to me, was completely unknown - so I couldn't predict what was coming. I was surprised at what horrible conditions both the people and the animlas endured on "train circuses" of the 1920s-1940s. If you're looking for a happy "magical" story about running away to join the circus - this isn't it.

The character development is limited, as it is written in the first person. My favorite character was Rosie the elephant - because the narrator clearly loves her and therefore you love her.

Apparently Gruen did vast research on the train circuses - making her use of jargon, lore and the incorporating of actual stories the core of the novel.



The book struck a personal cord with me in that for, as far as I can remember, the first time we get insight from the perspective of old people living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. My mother lives in an ALF although, sadly, she is not as mentally clear as Jacob . His frustration at his body failing him and of people making decisions for him and treating him like a child, along with feelings of being abandoned and useless really got to me and were gently and movingly written.

The magic comes in the highly improbable, yet tremendously satisfying ending.

I definitely recommend the book.

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