5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
This kind of book is one of my favorite kinds of books. Meaning, I love books that are about something that I didn't know much about before--books that can inform me, or teach me something, so to speak. This is why I have always loved historical fiction, why I was obsessed with reading books about the holocaust when I was ten years old, and why I recently wrote a historical novel of my own.
Water for Elephants takes place during the depression, and is about a traveling circus: namely, the veterinarian, a showgirl, and an elephant. All in all, I found it an engaging read, and loved learning about what life in the circus would have been like in the 1930s. I know that this book has been getting a lot of hype lately (between it becoming a motion picture, and the fact that lots of people were claiming it one of their favorite books) and so I was probably expected a little too much from the book when I picked it up. (Although, in hindsight, I rarely ever love the books that are later made into movies, so it should have been a good sign.) While I enjoyed the book, it definitely was not a story that I think I'd reread over and over again. And considering how interested I was in the details of circus life, I found myself disappointed in the lack of depth of some of the characters. The heroine, Marlena, felt flat to me, and as much as I wanted to love her as much as Jacob, the main character, did, I just couldn't do it without more development on the part of the author.
All in all, this was a decent read, and while I'd recommend it to most of my friends, it isn't a book that I would necessarily call a work of art. However, it did make me wish that I'd been to the circus as a child (or even now, as an adult...)
P.S. I have one more book review coming later this week or next, AND I've been reading a monster of a book, but I'm almost 3/4 of the way through :)