You may remember that about a month ago, I read two books by Sara Gruen, Riding Lessons and Flying Changes. I loved both books, and tore through each one in about a day.
I finally got the ebook of Water for Elephants from my library — there was a waiting list that has since gotten even longer, because of the movie that's coming out. And I have to say, this book was nothing short of amazing. I loved Riding Lessons and Flying Changes, of course, but I think I liked this one even better. You just feel during the entire book the the story is building toward something significant. I could hardly put it down!
The main character and narrator is Jacob, a student in veterinary school during the Great Depression. When tragedy strikes his family, he leaves school and literally runs away with the circus, though not on purpose — he hops a train and that's where he finds himself. Pretty soon he is sucked into the behind-the-scenes world of the circus, which is (as it turns out) full of corruption. Both Jacob's boss and the general manager of the circus are evil men, but there are a few bright spots. Jacob makes some loyal friends among the performers and crew, including Rosie, the elephant they acquire when another circus goes under.
I had a hard time deciding what category to put this book in, but ultimately I decided on historical fiction, because of the Great Depression time period and all the research that obviously went into getting the circus setting just right. I highly recommend it — you'll especially love the unexpected ending!