Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
I knew very little about this book going in. I kept seeing it pop up all over the place and I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. Here’s what I knew, or thought I knew, before I started reading:

1. This book is about a circus and some guy that may or may not give elephants water.
2. This book is also a fantastic movie! At least that’s what I kept hearing. I generally tend to read the book before I see the film, so that wasn’t helpful.
3. There are probably elephants in this book.

What this book is actually about:

Jacob is 90 or 93 years old, he can’t quite recall which, and living in a nursing home. He reminiscences about his early years while he waits for his family to visit and take him to the circus. We learn about young Jacob who drops out of college, where he was studying to become a veterinarian, when a family tragedy leaves him homeless and penniless and joins a circus as their vet. He falls in love, makes friends, makes enemies, cares for the animals and lots of other stuff happens. Well, I can’t give away everything. Most people hate spoilers. ;)

I very nearly gave up reading this book, not because it wasn’t interesting, it caught my attention and I had a difficult time putting it down, it does however have several scenes of extreme animal abuse that I found difficult to read. I felt like this book couldn’t possibly be heading anywhere good and I was going to be left wondering why I put myself through the torture. I’m so glad I kept reading!

This is one of those books that has an ending that makes it all worthwhile. This doesn’t excuse the author for abusing those poor fictional animals (thank goodness they were fictional) but there were some really great scenes with Rosie the elephant (yup I was right, there IS an elephant in this book) who is much smarter than she lets on, Bobo the chimp, Queenie the Jack Russell and several other creatures in the circus menagerie. I could tell the author truly does love animals.

Pros:
1. I adored old Jacob who reminded me a bit of my Grandfather who passed away. He was old and grouchy. His body was failing but his mind was still sharp and he hated to be confined or limited in any way. He wanted to keep working, keep moving and he had so many stories to tell.
2. I love that elephant, Rosie. I’ve never wanted to go out and hug an elephant as bad I did after reading this book.
3.I absolutely love a book that you can walk away from and smile.

Cons:
1. This book has romance in it. If you don’t like to read about boy meets girl boy falls in love with girl you probably wont like this book.
2. If you are overly sensitive to animal suffering you may want to skip this one. I liked Jacob, he really seemed to care for the safety of the animals, which is why I felt he should have tried harder to stop the abuse. Intervene, do something!

Recommendations: This book is for anyone who likes animals, romance, the circus (or doesn't like the circus), books that leave you feeling good. This book is for adults and does have scenes with sexual content. If you saw the movie and loved it, be sure to read the book.