February 11, 2011

Reasons to change from Team Edward to Team Jacob

THAT'S IT!! My latest read has me switching teams! No, I am not reading femme slash, no matter how much some of you crazy hoors want me to.
I am changing from Team Edward to


I know, I know, you are probably saying SUE? WTF?? Why, oh why, would I love the pup?

Oh my darlings I am talking about old Jacob
  • he has wrinkles
  • he is bald
  • he has a dirty mind
  • he is ahhhhhh just dreamy
  • he is either 90 or 93 he has not kept track in a long time
NOW before you get all "EWWWW that is so gross" I have to say OLD men deserve lovin' to!

If you are completely confused as to what I am talking about THIS POST has NOTHING to do with Twilight OR fic.

I am sure the look on your face is now this:
As some of you may know, LONG before fic ever became a part of my life I had a hobby and it was collecting books and the movies made from those books. I adore book adaptation movies. LOVE THEM!

I buy the book
I read the book
then I buy the movie
I watch the movie

When I say I have been doing this for YEARS I am not kidding. This obsession started when I was in High School and since I am 40 that is a long time so you can imagine my collection!

THIS TIME I was told by several that I had to get the book Water for Elephants.

After reading the book I have a different love. You girls can keep young Jacob.
I want old Jacob. He's mine so BACK OFF!

Now that I have gushed and fangirled over this book which I have to say buy it read it talk to me about it I am going to leave you to the fabulous GoJeannie  to give all of you a much more intellectual review that might actually tell you about the story and give you a reason to read this wonderful tale aside from my gushing.

 Water for Elephants: A Novel

Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

This will officially be the longest time for me between reading a book and writing a review of it (I read it a year ago). But I promised Sue I would maintain my professional mask while writing this review for Water for Elephants and not squee my way through it.

This is also my first official review of a non-YA novel. Again, I am so out of my element.

For those of you who have not already read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen then this is perfect timing for you to do so before the movie comes out on April 22. Even if you’re not the type of person that has to read the book before you see the movie, I encourage you to do so in this case. Why? Because the story is so vastly rich and deep with imagery and emotion that to not read the book and go into the movie cold-turkey would be shorting yourself the full experience. Trust me on this one. 

Water for Elephants is told from the point of view of 93-year old Jacob Jankowski, flashing back to the days of traveling circuses and prohibition. So begins the sweeping tale of 23-year old Jacob, not-yet done with veterinary school whose parent’s sudden and tragic deaths spiral his life into an adventure of a lifetime. It is through these adventures that is the heart of the story. Jacob is thrust into the world of the Benzini Brother’s Circus accompanied by the most interesting band of characters this side of the Ringling Bros Freaks sideshow. There’s even a midget, oh my!  

But just when you think the circus is all fun and games, you enter the seedy underworld of this story. Sara Gruen’s superbly written and well-researched novel takes us to another world. Before the circus was the Greatest Show on Earth, it was a back-breaking, rise-at-dawn ordeal for all involved. A sometimes cutthroat business that has little to no regard for the individuals putting up the tent at all hours of the night, the “freaks” of the show who do not belong anywhere else and the animals removed from their natural habitats. Especially the animals. I could get into telling  you about Jacob’s story and how he meets the beautiful and talented (and married) Marlena. I could go on and on about Walter and the rest of the Roustabouts. I could even get into the reasons why August, Marlena’s ringmaster husband, was justified for his actions. But I really just want to talk about Rosie.

For all intents and purposes, Rosie the elephant is the main attraction in this story, just like she is the main attraction in the Benzini Brothers Circus. She comes to the circus from a “going out of business” sale from another traveling circus and apparently only understands Polish. But oh is she a clever elephant! Jacob eventually figures her out (conveniently, he knows some Polish) and by the end, you figure out where her loyalties lie. Rosie’s perseverance through abuse and neglect mirrors Jacob’s experience with the circus and without spoiling the story, I will say that the joy of this story is definitely in the journey. There are some sad moments in this book and as with life, this is a given, but it’s how the characters come through that make the sad parts worth it. 

I say this is as perfect as a story can get. It has intrigue and adventure, a villain motivated by jealousy and pride,  characters you love and hate, a compelling love story and a toothless lion. What more do you want in a story? This is the kind of story you would want to tell your children when they are old enough to appreciate a true adventure. Jacob is a character you love immediately upon introduction, he is vulnerable and strong at the same time, a real hero. You hurt when he hurts, you grieve when he grieves and even in his 93-year old self who longs to remember a past that is slowly slipping away from him, you don’t question the details of his story. 

Sara Gruen and "Rosie"
One last note about the book, if you get towards the end, there is a certain part of the book where you might want to go back and re-read the first chapter. Do it. I did and was rewarded with a delightful comparison of events. Let me know if you do, I’m curious to know how many of us feel the need to go back to see if we missed something the first time we read it!

Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during a National Novel Writing Month but she exhaustively researched the time a year before putting pen to paper that fateful November. Go Sara, thank you for this treasure of a story.      




succubus said...

Boo! Had super awesome comments get deleted. Let me try this again.

My dental hygienist rec'd WFE to me and I was hesitant, it'd been a long time since I read a book that wasn't about the precious or for academic reasons and I was never into fiction all that much.

When I read the prologue my first reaction was this is exactly like fanfic, but I let go of my preconceived notions and was pleasantly surprised.

I know exactly what you are talking about and went back and read the prologue several times throughout the book.

Sorta related: After I read the beginning I thought Rob had some weird fixation with playing virginal characters, thank god he's fixing that with Cosmopolis.

Beans827 said...

I just read it about a month ago and I have to agree, you just HAVE to love cranky old Jacob! He is just too cute for words. How he gets all upset at the other old guy at the home who says he carried water for elephants! I could easily picture the old curmudgeon and I think Hal Holbrook will be brilliant as old Jacob. I really did enjoy the book but I have to admit that I think she could have fleshed out some of the scenes a little more. To me, I felt it was written more like a movie that needed to gloss over things in the effort to save time. I didn't think Jacob's time that he spent with the animals was showcased nearly enough. So, in reality, I'm not criticizing the book just wishing there had been more. I did really enjoy immersing myself in the world of a Depression Era Circus. It was an unknown entity to me before reading it so I loved that part. And lastly but not least, did you notice on the very first page how Jacob's roommate at vet school was Edward? I just thought that was so ironic since these two women were writing these works of fiction about the same time. Gave me quite a chuckle!!!

Post a Comment