Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

This was our book for July as many of you already know! Once again we're trying something a little different!! This time we just want to know: Did you like it? What emotions did it invoke if any? Did you like Jacob? Who was your favorite character? What did you think about the opening paragraph? Did you like how it ended? Do you like the circus?
You don't have to answer all these questions I'm just trying to get everyone thinking again if it's been a while since you read it!! ;0) We can't wait to hear what you thought!!


  1. I really liked this book; I was instantly intrigued after reading the first line. The old man is endearing and well-rounded and, since the book is written in the first-person, I found seeing the world through an old man's eyes to be quite enlightening. Then to turn the page to be introduced to the same grumpy old man when he is just a young, kind-hearted, and naive kid made for a good premise for the story.

    Young-Jacob’s story begins with such a horrible blow and he is left with nothing. My heart kind of hurt for this poor kid (funny I call him a kid even though him and I are the same age at this point in the book…) and at first glance I thought that hopping aboard a circus train might be good for him: he’s a trained vet and needs a source of income. Unfortunately, as the book goes on, we saw that the circus was not about to treat Jacob well and we had to watch him survive in this awful setting.

    With that said, I really like Jacob. He was a very genuine character both as a boy and as an old man. I think he often dealt with horrible situations in honorable ways such as helping Walter with his dog despite Walter treating him poorly, taking in Camel when he was about to be red-lighted, letting Bobo stay on his hip when making rounds in the menagerie, and not treating Rosie like she’s stupid. I disliked how he did not step in when August was abusing the animal but I can’t say it would have ended well…August would probably have killed Jacob for interfering…

    My favorite character was the nurse, Rosemary, because she sees past the old-man Jacob’s grumpy behavior and treats him like a human being. I also really liked Walter because although it was tough for Jacob to get past his shell, eventually he let Jacob in and they could be friends despite their drastically different lives.

    I also liked the ending. It was sad that Jacob’s family had practically forgotten him, but he managed to again take control of his own life, walk into the circus, and finish his life as glamorously as he had begun it.

  2. You said everything so well...I agree with all of it and (how embarrasing) can't think of one thing to add! You even have the same favorite characters that I did :)

  3. Wow, Melanie, I agree with Kelly! You seemed to pick out the same things that I enjoyed about this book also.

    I really liked Jacob, and I think the story drew me in immediately. I had a hard time accepting that he would not be finishing his degree. I can completely understand why, but my personality is such that I would have had to finish it. Especially after I found out how my parents had paid for it. Even after saying that, however, I still understand why someone, especially Jacob, would not.

    Something that hit me personally, was Old Jacob's nursing home experience. Having spent a lot of time at the nursing home with my (our) grandmother, I can see that, sadly, his experience was not far from what hers was. Fortunately, our grandma's family never forgot her, my mother was there everyday - but I still saw the same sadness in others eyes while they waited in the lobby for their families. I saw first hand the way some nurses just treated the elderly like toddlers, no matter their awareness level. For that, I was glad that Jacob had Rosemary, which endeared me to her more.

    I really liked the way the story ended, it was fitting and I couldn't help but smile at the end. :)

  4. I truly liked this book. I also liked jacobs character and it was so sad to see how he was treated in the nursing home by his family (by being forgotten.) It kind of hits home and got me thinking that I could have done better with relatives. It makes me want to wish and hope that there is a nurse like Rosemary everywhere in every nursing home to help people in tough situations and make them feel like "people" again.

    I truly was so hurt and blindsided by Jacob not taking a stand, or anyone for a matter when he was abusing Rosie. I wanted to cry out. I wanted to yell at someone to do something. I was hoping Marlena would do something, but in the book they kept her very ignorant. I liked her, but I wish she would have been in the "know how" a bit more and had a bit more of a stand on things. But, tis the era. But the same time, Jacob seemed to redeem himself by taking Rosie the liquor and even helping out Walter and Camel. Then by taking Rosie at the end and Bobo and the horses.

    It was so cute how he said he was broke, had no where to live,but he had a pregnant wife, dozen horses, a monkey, a dog, and an elephant! It was cute. Isnt that how life goes? We are always "biting off more than we can chew", but life is great that way.

    I like how Jacob ends up "back" in the circus...I dont know much more to say about it than that.....I liked it.

    It was overall a wonderful book. Full of surprise, fear, anger, delight, and even a little bit of smut (cant ever turn that down! lol), and love. I loved it!!!

  5. I really enjoyed this book too. It reminded me of HBO's Carnivle same time period and everything but that show was creepy!! But it allowed me to visualise the circus of the 20's not a circus of today.
    I thought the author did a lot of reserach. It really felt like it was non-fiction. (sorry about any typos:0)


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