I’m attending my first book club this month and this was the book on the list. Admittedly, I wasn’t excited. I don’t typically read these types of books and the fact that it has gotten rave reviews turned me off. For some reason, I end up enjoying books most people don’t like. The fact that Megan said it was the “greatest book she’s ever read” and Becky said that she was “hooked from the first paragraph” assured me that I wouldn’t like this book.
Oh. My. Gosh. I was wrong.
Water For Elephants was about a boy named Jacob who joined the circus after his parents died just because he was going to take his tests to certify him as a veterinarian. The story also involves Jacob as an older man, 90 or 93, who is living in a nursing home and reminiscing about his early days with the circus. Younger Jacob quickly becomes the show’s vet, even though he’s technically not certified, where he watches over the flurry of animals for the circus. He befriends a man named August and his wife Marlena, whom Jacob falls hard for. The book follows the progression of Jacob, as he grows up and learns the harsh realities of the world. He learns about love, about hatred, about caring for animals and the strength he has within himself.
I absolutely loved every single page of this book. I fell head over heels for both Younger Jacob and Older Jacob because they both possessed an innate strength and zest for life. Seeing how he grew up as he grew into himself was inspiring.
I thought the plot was fantastic and there weren’t any parts that dragged. Gruen kept it moving the whole time. The dialogue was great and I just loved the development of Jacob and Marlena’s relationship. I hated and loved August, all at the same time.
I can’t pinpoint what I loved most about this book, but I was a little surprised at the ending, simply because of the type of book I thought it was. Others might have thought it predictable, but I didn’t. (This is probably because I read a lot of predictable books and really don’t mind the predictability of them.)
I am really, really excited about the movie adaptation of this book. Robert Pattinson is going to play Younger Jacob, which I think can work. I’m not the biggest Pattinson fan, but he was a little of what I pictured Younger Jacob looked like. Reese Witherspoon is going to play Marlena, which I’m not quite sure about. But since I love Reese, I think she can pull it off!
What did this book teach me? I’m not sure. That I need to give popular books a second chance? 😉 I think it taught me about inner strength and that you can’t sit back in life. Cliché as it may be, you really have to make lemonade out of lemons. Jacob was on his way to become a Cornell-educated veterinarian and join his father’s practice. Instead, his parents died and he joined the circus. Yet he still managed to make something out of it and found himself in the process. We don’t know where life will take us, but it’s up to us to make the most out of whatever life hands to us.