Written by Sara Gruen, Water For Elephants starts with a death and ends with a new life (of sorts). The narrator, Jacob Jankowski, drops out of Cornell University his senior year, hops a freight train, and (yes) joins the circus. The name of the book is “lifted” from an attorney in an assisted living facility who claims he used to carry water for elephants in of all places the circus. Lambasting the attorney in a cafeteria full of his peers, Jacob argues the impossibility of carrying water for elephants. The tales that follow the geriatric feud support an underlying theme in the book. The circus is not what it appears to be, neither is life. Jankowski cements his credibility as he weaves stories of youthful adventures with the realities of aging.
Now on DVD
The storyline runs parallel with Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier. Both are told by old men. Both relate the escapades of youth. Both narrators require caregivers after old age sets begins. One narrator is living until death, the other is dying to live. Gruen’s writing has an advantage over Frazier’s; she strings words in a fun, easy-to-read, page turner. Water For Elephants the movie is on DVD now.