Book Reveiw 7-16
Sunday, August 31, 2008

By Denise Turney
The story jumps right in to the start.  A youn g man is left an orphan in a matter of seconds.  A car accident takes both of his parents – just-like-that.  He finds out while he’s taking a final exam at college.  He’s pulled out of class and given the life-altering news.  He’s an only child.  If he has family outside his parents who he’s just been told are dead, he doesn’t know who or where they are.  So he takes off; he just takes off.  He runs along the railroad tracks.  He has no destination in mind which is what gives the story life.  Before he knows it, he’s riding on a train, the first one that passes by while he’s outside by the tracks.  What he doesn’t know is that he’s just hopped on a circus train.  His life will never be the same.

The connection between the circus and deep life changes is clever of Sara Gruen, the book’s author.  Years ago it was usual for a circus to come into town, set up its big top and put on a show a child – adults too – would find hard to forget.  A seemingly common event that came around once or twice a ye ar, the same way that life changes come by only every now and then.  Jacob, the man in the story who’s orphaned at the start of the book, takes those chances.  Not by choice at the start – the first one he’s sort of forced into after his parents die suddenly.  Their death, their going, gives Jacob a courage he hadn’t bothered to use before.  He can take chances now, and he does.

The men who run the circus are hard task masters.  One is grittier than that.  He’s mean, downright cruel at times.  And he has a wife who Jacob falls in love with upon sight.  But the circus has to make money to keep going.  And that’s what the circus owners are most focused on.  Before they know it, they have an elephant in the circus.  Only Jacob, a man who was studying to be a veterinarian before his parents died, can reach the elephant and communicate with her.  Even so this animal with a long memory has her own plans.

Sara Gruen wrote this story right.  E ach page is tight, each scene is provocative.  Water for Elephants reads like a good mystery and a moving love story rolled into one.  It is no wonder the book was a #1 New York Times bestseller.  If you like strong writing that flows like poetry, as smooth as water, and you like solid storylines and taut scenes, you’ll enjoy Water for Elephants.  It’s a story that does not disappoint.

Visit Denise online at  Read excerpts from Denise’s two new books online FREE by e-mailing with “Request New Free Excerpts” in the subject line.


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