Water for Elephants

Gruen , Sara. Water for Elephants. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006. Print.


Written by: Sara Gruen

Reviewed by: Jasmine Sulewski

Recommended Audience: High School – Young Adult ( strong language and other subjects)
In the novel Water for Elephants the story has two plots both involving the main character Jacob. In one of the plots Jacob is a young man starting of his journey into the world. In the other plot Jacob is an old man stuck living in a nursery which he hates because the treat him like “an old nut”. Throughout the story the chapters switch point of views. The point of view that is most talked about is when Jacob is younger. Jacob is a young man just about to finish his degree at Cornell’s veterinary school. But something bad occurs before he finishes,  his parents die in an accident and Jacob has to drop out of school. He then comes to find out that he is left with no inheritance and no job. So Jacob packs what is left of his belongings and sets out to  find what to do with his life. One night when Jacob is ready to leave his now destroyed life he catches onto ,what seems to be a happy accident, circus traveling by train known as the Benzini Brothers.
The Benzini Brothers is led by what they call a ringmaster named Uncle Al. A friendly drunk named Camel helps get Jacob involved with the circus, taking care of the animals. At the circus, Jacob has to work with a strong and hard-headed man named August who’s in charge of the most important animal acts. He also works with August’s wife, the beautiful Marlena, who’s one of the circus stars. Jacob and Marlena are attracted to each other but of course she is automatically off limits! Jacob also runs into a couple other characters one that is important is his roommate Walter.The circus travels around and eventually picks up an elephant named Rosie. August has trouble training her and his violence is strong. Jacob is able to train Rosie so he works with August to help get her to join the act. In the meantime, Jacob and Marlena’s relationship grows very stronger and August becomes jealous.
August becomes more violent  while Marlena and Jacob fall more in love. August then accuses them of adultery and beats them both pretty badly. Marlena leaves August, and she and Jacob become closer. They realize how strong their love is for one another and finally act on it. Both of their positions at the circus are threatened especially when they learn that Marlena is pregnant. Plus, the circus is running out of money, which means it will probably kick people out and throw them off an ongoing train and to their death. Throughout the other parts of the story the second point of view comes into play. The point view is coming from Jacob as an older man telling this story to one of the nurses at the nursery home. He also later escapes from the nursery home and visits the old circus and tells his story to Charlie who is the current runner of the circus.
Authors Interview:http://saragruen.com/water-for-elephants/interview/
Description of Water for Elephants:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_for_Elephants

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