In Water for Elephants, the story is told through Jacob Jankowski at two different parts in his life: twenty-three year old Jacob who is out there exploring the world and, ninety-three year old Jacob who feels like he is wasting away his life in a nursing home. Water for Elephants is Gruen’s third book, it became one of the New York Times best sellers, it’s also available in forty-four different languages and it’s now a motion picture (Sara Gruen). Throughout the novel the reader is brought through both Jacob’s happy memories and ones that he wishes he could forget which shows its impact on the reader, a sense of catharsis and its social significance.
I absolutely loved reading Water for Elephants; it is probably one of the best novels that I have read in my life time thus far. I would say that this novel is one for all ages but it contains some foul language and some content that’s more appropriate for a mature reader. One thing that I liked is that each chapter had a different photo from many different circuses. For example, one of the photos is an elephant, or the entertainers or pictures of the big circus tent (Gruen 238, 70, 48). Another thing that I utterly enjoyed about Gruen’s novel was her transitions; every few chapters she would flip- flop back and forth between twenty-three year old Jacob and ninety-three year old Jacob. Here’s an example of this, “I give up on rage, which at this point has become a formality, and make a mental note to get angry again in the morning. Then I let myself drift, because there’s really no fighting it. The train groans, straining against the increasing resistance of air breaks. After several minutes and a final, prolonged shriek, the great iron beast shudders to a stop and …
…you’re bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but its decades before you admit it” (Gruen 5). Here Jacob is saying that people like to live in and think about their past ages and try to hold on to those instead of living in the present. People lose sight of what’s actually in front of them and usually waste their life way. Life passes to quickly; people need to just go after what they want so that they can live happily with a life filled with no regrets.
Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants: a novel. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.: Algonquin Books, 2006. Print.
Judd, Elizabeth. “Trunk Show.” The New York Times Book Review 4 June 2006: 35(L). Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Mar. 2014.
“Sara Gruen.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Mar. 2014. Web 15 Mar. 2014. .