Saturday, March 29, 2008

Water for Elephants for Sara Gruen

I have a love/hate relationship with Water for Elephants. I finished many scenes in this book and had to put it down and take a deep breath and seethe for a few minutes before I could pick it back up again. After one particular reading session, I wanted to hurl the book across the room. But I persevered, and in the end I was glad I had.

The characters in this book are so well-developed that I felt like I could reach out and touch them. Especially the star of the show, Rosie the elephant. I so wanted to be next to Rosie and touch her wrinkled skin. Look into her oh-so-human eyes.

But a word of caution. If you are strongly affected by elderly neglect or cruelty to animals, you should enter into this book with care. There are some heart-wrenching scenes in this book that tore me apart. I have a close friend with whom I share many of my books, but I have strong reservations regarding passing this book on to her, because I know that these two topics are very dear to her. I'm just not sure she could handle them. Suffice it to say that train circuses were much more concerned about making a profit than in the ethical treatment of their animals and workers.

This fulfills the "animal" category of Annie's What's in a Name Challenge.

Other reviews can be found at:
Reading Adventure


Amanda said...

Keep in mind that the book was set in the early years of the Depression. Not that it excuses the treatment of the animals and people, but it might help explain it.

I need to re-read this book by April 15 as I will be leading the discussion of it at the next local book club meeting!

Lezlie said...

Thanks for the warning. I've been wondering about that very thing, so I have yet to pick this one up despite all the great reviews. Now that I know for sure, I can emotionally ready myself if I decide to go for it. :-)


Somer said...

Amanda - It's not that it's not appropriate to the time, but that it's difficult subject matter. The book was researched very well, and I'm sure it's historically accurate. But some people might have a hard time dealing with it emotionally. My friend has specifically said she can't deal with some types of subject matter, which is why I hesitate to recommend it to her. If I had a hard time reading certain sections, I know that it would tear her to pieces.

Lezlie - Good! That's what I intended in my review. I don't want to steer anyone away from it, but I think bracing yourself for it is a good idea. I often don't read reviews before I start a book because I'm afraid of spoilers, so I didn't know what I was in for in this case.

Debi said...

Wonderful review, Somer. I really appreciate the honesty, because I'm one of those people who probably couldn't handle it.

cornbread hell said...

this is one of my all time favorite books, somer.

i'm normally a total wimp when it comes to cruelty, whether depicted in film or print or experienced in real life. and no matter the creature involved.

this is just a damn good book.

Maw Books said...

I remember thinking when I read this book that it was awful how they treated animals back then. I'm sure it's still that way in many areas of the world.