‘Water for Elephants’ has two complex stories, perfect ending

Kendra Ward

“Water for Elephants,” a bestselling novel by Sara Gruen, clearly shows the craziness of circus life and the hard life of a man in a nursing home who desperately wants to believe he shouldn’t be there.

The novel follows the life of Jacob Jankowski. It starts out with him at age 90 or 93, trying to cope with the reality of being an old man in a nursing home. Then we are thrust into the world of twenty-three-year-old Jacob, who is about to receive his veterinary degree from Cornell and is looking forward to starting a practice with his father. Jacob receives the news that his parents died in an accident and now he’s alone. He flees and just happens to jump on the train of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth and becomes the circus’ vet.

In one world Jacob is angry at an old lawyer for claiming he carried water for elephants and in the other world Jacob is carrying whiskey for an elephant while trying to protecting her from a crazy man. That man also just happens to be married to the girl he loves.

I read this book because of all the praise it acquired. It was on four major newspapers’ best-sellers list, which piqued my curiosity. I was hooked from page two and read it quicker than I thought possible. It really sucked me into Jacob’s young and old worlds, with brilliant transitions between the two. It also had me laughing out loud.

Because of the complexity of holding basically two stories together, the ending was possibly the only ending that could satisfy both. The only problem I had with “Water for Elephants” was the three fairly graphic sex scenes. While those scenes are a part of the story it would have been just as a good of a book if Gruen had just mentioned the events instead of going into such detail. However, if you have no problems with that then definitely pick up this book for a great read.