I Read It Against My Will

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

So my sister told me I had to read this book. I knew of it already, having placed holds on it for library patrons day after day. And I was resistant. Here’s the thing: I’m freaked out by circuses, and I knew for a fact this book was set right smack dab in the middle of a circus. Plus, animal books make me cry, and I was sure there were going to be animals in this book. I was running for cover. In the face of such opposition, my sister pulled out her famous line, “Trust me.” So I placed a hold on the book for myself.

And, so, my sister was right. (Stop smirking, S.K.!)

I tend to read for characters, and this book has great characters. And they’re likeable characters (all except for a couple of truly vile villains), and that’s another prerequisite of mine. And frankly, the plot ain’t bad, either. The book alternates between the present-day—when Jacob Jankowski is a disgruntled resident of a nursing home, and the 1930s—when, as a young man, he served as the veterinarian for a two-bit circus and fell in love with the boss’s wife. A story of love in the midst of cruelty and squalor—and, doggone it, love wins.

So, the ending is a bit contrived and sentimental. But heck, it had me struggling to choke back tears. And, doggone it, the tears won.