Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bookmarks -- Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants is a fascinating and exciting novel by Sara Gruen about a 93 (maybe) year old man coming to terms with his age, his forgetful family, and the adventure of a lifetime.

The novel moves back and forth in time between the protagonist's unhappy life in an assisted living facility and his adventure as a circus veterinarian. In the former, he waits none too patiently for his son to pick him up for a trip to the circus as he deals with the various indignities of being where only one person seems to really care about him and where his body and mind are not always in sync. In the latter, we see him drop out of school with graduation only an exam away, join a circus at the height of the Depression, and fall in love with a star performer. Along the way readers are treated to a few sides of history otherwise neglected and a portrait of the elderly that is tender and painful, but always honest, and not overly sentimental. If you feel sadness or exuberance or fear or triumph while reading this book, note that the writer has truly earned those feelings.

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