Did you ever want to run away to join the Circus? Sara Gruen's marvelous Water for Elephants provides all the color, smells, tragedy, humor and romance of the big top tent. Ninety + Jacob Jankowski, lodged in a nursing home, recalls his life with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth (considerably less spectacular than the rival Ringling Brothers Greatest Show on Earth) during the early days of the Great Depression. Jacob is 23 and a veterinary student when life takes a turn for the worst. His parents are killed in an accident and money to finish college is gone. His decision - join the circus. Introduced are a memorable cast of characters, including the beautiful circus star, Marlena, her brutal husband August, the dwarf Walter, and importantly, Rosie, the elephant. All play a part in the mystery and wonder of the Circus and in changing Jacob's life. Gruen has done her research and she transports the reader to another place and time. A wonderfully written, totally engaging book with a little plot twist.
Recommended by Mary Ellen Raun