Chapter 428 : Mis-Identification | Chicago Fire | Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Water for Elephants” as Want to Read:
Water for Elephants
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Water for Elephants

by
4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,167,041 Ratings  ·  56,721 Reviews
Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Award for Most Popular Book.

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus strug
...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Algonquin Books (first published May 26th 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Water for Elephants, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Juonithz I liked the book but mainly for its premise and potential. I didn't really feel the love between the characters because they were so two dimensional.…moreI liked the book but mainly for its premise and potential. I didn't really feel the love between the characters because they were so two dimensional. (less)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane AustenTwilight by Stephenie Meyer
Best Books Ever
51,687 books — 182,528 voters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Best Books of the Decade: 2000s
6,814 books — 27,573 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Rachel
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooked
I think I expected too much out of this novel and therefore had room only for disappointment. Though I finished the book in its entirety, I wrote a short review on my blog about halfway through, expounding on the aspects of the book that irritated me. I have adapted it herein.

First, the main "heroine," Marlena, is incredibly flat & boring. The narrator/main character, Jacob, is clearly infatuated with her, but I'm not sure why other than she looks good in pink sequins. She's married to her a
...more
Rachel
Dec 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: romance lovers
* * REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS * *

I really wanted to like this book. I think my low opinion is partially my fault, because I drove into the story with high expectations due to rave reviews. I need to learn not to do that.

The beginning of this novel was excellent. A Ivy League dropout, who formerly studied to be a vet, runs away and joins the circus. The time period? The Depression and Prohibition America - a historical era of uncertainty and chaos. I was looking for an intriguing tale of a
...more
Kevin
May 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, audiobook
Oh man, this was lovely.
Sammy
Jun 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-the-best
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nataliya
Dec 31, 2011 rated it liked it

I picked up Water for Elephants after seeing the movie. You know, the one with "that Twilight guy" - who for a change was allowed to smile. And to have other facial expressions besides "permanently constipated". The math is simple:

.........................
Drum roll: Rosie the elephant works better than Ex-Lax!

But on to the book now. In addition to Jacob Jankowski's "love affair" with Rosie the elephant (and a noticeably less sweet affair with Marlena-the-bland-chick) we get a parallel story of J

...more
RJ McGill
Jul 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: reviewed
Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants is one of those rare novels, that will be read and re-read, discussed and enjoyed for many years, by old and young alike. Destined to be passed between family and friends and back again, until the tattered, time worn pages resemble the books beloved central character and narrator.Jacob Jankowski, just days from the final exams at Cornell University that would have attached the respectable Dr. of Veterinary medicine forever to his name, had his world forever alter ...more
Michele
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Now THIS is a Good Book!
When I finished reading Water for Elephants, goose bumps covered my skin. Now this is a good book! Immediately engrossed, I had a hard time putting it down as I read the story of Jacob Jankowski and his reminiscence of days with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth--otherwise known as a train circus in 1930's America.

A talented writer and storyteller, Sara Gruen takes readers on a bumpy and tense train ride through history. This tale defines Americana. Ther
...more
Beth F.
Just to put it out there, I’ll admit straight off the bat that I’m one of the people who enjoyed this book. It was a fast read (which I always appreciate, because I’m perpetually drowning in a list of books TBR) and it was fairly easy to get through. I also didn’t see the end coming until a few pages before it actually happened, which probably added immensely to my enjoyment factor.

I’ve been reading all the criticisms of this book in an attempt to organize my opinions after reading this book. It
...more
Matt
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
April 24, 2008 edition of Coastal View News

The glitz and grit, glam and sham of depression-era circus life limps along in Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants” with little aid from her shoddy prose, predictable plot and underdeveloped metaphor. Although the book has a flashy appearance and is easily digested, it offers less nutritional value than promised.

When his parents suddenly and tragically die, Jacob Jankowski quits veterinarian school at Cornell University just before graduation and finds hi
...more
Kat Kennedy
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like the circus. Or People who don't like the circus. Or people who have bolt cutters.
I can count the number of times I've been to the circus on one hand. Actually, realistically, on one finger.

We were taken once by my grandparents when I was about five. First, last and only time. My parents hate the idea of the circus and scorned it with all the pretentious uninterest that would likely scar their children for life, causing them to grow up embittered, solitary and convicted to write scathing, snarky reviews on GoodReads as a form or self expression in order to share their own mis
...more
Kristina Horner
Dec 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was PERFECT and I loved it. I want to read it again and again, and I can't recommend the audio book enough.
Fabian
Nov 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's truly admirable to place the plot on a moving train and its roving fairgrounds... it's like living in a cotton candy cloud. There were plenty of chances to dash the reader away, to make poetry out of the circus workers' vagrant conditions, to use the animals as characters, not just decor,... to avoid cliche. This novel is written concisely, but with often description so vague the reader just glides over it. Also, the narrator is absolutely unreliable... oftentimes he seems more hero than hu ...more
Christina
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
4 stars!

It's the 1930's, in the midst of the great depression and prohibition. At 23, Jacob Jankowski is just days away from taking his final exams at Cornell and becoming a veterinarian. He plans to join his fathers practice. Then he gets the devastating news that both his parents were killed in an automobile accident. They were behind on their mortgage and both their house and his fathers practice belong to the bank. There's nothing left for Jacob, no home to go to anymore. In a daze, he walk
...more
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 1.5 Stars

I went into this book with basically no expectations.

Outside of the preview I saw for the movie starring Robert Pattinson & Reese Witherspoon years ago, I didn't even know what this book was about. Turns out this is a story is set in the 1920's & told from the dual perspectives of Jacob Jankowski when he is 23 & 90 (or maybe 93).

On one hand, the story follows young Jacob right after his parents are both taken from him in a freak car accident. Laden with grief
...more
Kristen
Sep 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
This book is so terrible it made me physically angry. It's predictable, cliched and unimaginative. The good-hearted poor boy meets the good-hearted beautiful girl, who's involved with the bad-hearted, controlling man. Whatever will happen?

Seriously. Don't buy this book. I know the cover is pretty, and the title is intriguing, and the summary is enticing. It's all razzle-dazzle. Kinda like a circus itself.
Tory
Aug 23, 2007 rated it did not like it
This is a very good example of why one should have no expectations when going into a book. I wanted this book to be great. I thought this book was going to be great. A depression era traveling circus and all that entails? Awesome! The author’s voice being likened to Mr. Irving? Awesome! The fact that damn near everyone LOVED it? Promising! The only other circus book I’ve read was GEEK LOVE, and holy shit. Awesome! All of this lead me to believe that I was about to be blown away.

But, it wasn’t aw
...more
Dannii Elle
I can fully see why this book has such a polarizing effect on its readers: the circus setting led me to anticipate this as a fantastical and magical, fast-paced read, akin to The Night Circus. What was actually delivered was a moving and slow-building portrait of life as part of a circus. This was densely descriptive and evocative of the life of Jacob Jankowski, veterinarian for the Benzini Brothers' circus show, but there was little plot to move the story forward.

The novel was split between pas
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Water for elephants, 2007, Sara Gruen
عنوان: آب برای فیلها؛ نویسنده: سارا گروئن (گرون)؛ مترجم: پروین آقایی؛ کرج، در دانش بهمن، 1388؛ در 383 ص، مصور؛ شابک: 9789641740674؛
مترجم: مهناز سیدعلیخانی؛ تهران، آموت، 1391، در 464 ص، شابک: 9786006605098؛
ماجرای عاشق و معشوق نگونبختی ست كه در دهه ی سی فرن بیستم، در سیرکی در آمریکا رخ میدهد. ژاکوب جانکوسکی که به تازگی پدر و مادر خویش را از دست داده و سرگردان است، به واگن قطاری در حال گذر میپرد، نخست انگار میکند وارد جهانی از موجودات عجیب شده. قطار سیرک سیار د
...more
AMEERA
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5
Brenda
Jul 21, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: cotton candy junkies
I just finished reading "Water for Elephants" out on my deck. Just boo. That's my review. Boo. Not a loud boo, or an emphatic boo, just your average boo. Water for Elephants equals boo.

Why do I give this a boo rating? Mostly for the dialogue. The author tries to explain 1930s carnival vernacular through a green carnie's questions about the world around him. And the questions come out over simplified and make for unrealistic and stilted conversations.

Sara Gruen also tries to intersperse a 90-yea
...more
Jason Koivu
Reading this was like running a marathon on bloody stumps. It took forever and it was painful.

The subject - a vet recalling his days in a failing 1920s circus - would've interested me if the writing had been up to par. It wasn't horrible, just amateurish at times. Also, the dialogue could've been better. If the characters sounded more like they came from the '20s it might've drawn me more into the story, but they sounded like contemporaries who like to use old timey jargon. Also, I can't get do
...more
Nancy
I wasn’t planning on reading this story, but my co-worker insisted. Since we had so much fun reading and discussing The Help, I decided to borrow the audio book from the library.

Craig enjoyed the story more than I did and gave it four stars, while I gave it just three. We both enjoyed the alternating perspectives, from that of Jacob when he’s in his early 20’s and working for the Benzini Brothers circus to the old Jacob, when he’s 90 (or 93) and living in a nursing home. We loved the large cast
...more
Buggy
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In the beginning of Water For Elephants Jacob Jankowski tells us that he is ninety or ninety-three. One or the other. He's not really sure anymore. His body betrayed him years ago and Jacob now fears that his mind isn’t far behind. Shuffling along miserably behind his walker, he’s living out his final days in the nursing home and hating every minute of it. Just another invisible senior citizen who’s family and the world as a whole has forgotten about.

When the circus comes to town and sets up it
...more
Frankie Lovely
2 stars
Review to come


BR with ~Bellegirl91~

There are things I liked and disliked about this book.
Theresa
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Such a whimsical and fascinating novel. Some of the violence involving circus animals was a little upsetting but overall, I enjoyed reading about Jacob's story. I really liked him. :)
Will Byrnes
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ladies and gentlemen. Direct your attention to the performer in print. You will be amazed, dazzled and mystified by the daring feats you are about to witness. Well, that might be overstating a bit. The story does open with drama, though. A circus menagerie has gotten loose and there is mayhem. The narrator, Jacob, sees the ringmaster murdered. We then scoot ahead to the present. Jacob is in his 90s and looks back, revisiting his ghosts. From here, we flip back and forth between Jacob in the pres ...more
Anne Goldschrift
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hach, was für ein schönes Ende ♥
Izetta Autumn
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Somehow I feel that I have to defend why I liked this book, even though there's no one saying why I shouldn't have enjoyed it. Here's what I found most touching: the author took an fantastic premise - an orphan running away to the circus, a love triangle, an elephant, and the Great Depression and weaved a tale that doesn't make you say "bullocks," at every page. Gruen outlines use of anachronistic story telling is effective and she is skilled at moving the story along, even more adept at highlig ...more
Meredith Holley
I have a problem with books when the nicest thing people can think of to say about them is, "It is based on a true story," or, "At least it was well researched." It is the same as saying a woman "has a great personality" or a man is "super sweet". In the case of fiction, as with these backwards insults to humans, the "based on a true story" and "well researched" labels actually mean that the books are ugly or stupid. That is not to say I am against true stories or research, but if it's the nices ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2018 Reading Chal...: Rebecca Burke's 120 Books of 2018 18 63 May 31, 2018 07:07AM  
Romance/Drama 1 5 Apr 05, 2018 08:12AM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - Restarting April 7th 2018 15 141 Mar 23, 2018 01:52PM  
ACPL Online Book ...: Water for Elephants-December 2 4 Dec 14, 2017 11:30AM  
Symbolism: What is the "Water" and who is the "Elephant"? 39 1936 Dec 10, 2017 08:22AM  
Around the Year i...: Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen 6 61 Dec 04, 2017 09:33AM  
  • The Queen of the Big Time
  • Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2)
  • The God of Animals
  • Belong to Me
  • Beach Music
  • The Girls
  • The Wild Girl
  • The Book of Bright Ideas
  • Cutting for Stone
  • All Different Kinds of Free
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain
  • People of the Book
  • Garden Spells (Waverley Family, #1)
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • Sea Glass
  • Voyager (Outlander, #3)
  • When Crickets Cry
  • Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
4,628 followers
Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels: AT THE WATER'S EDGE, APE HOUSE, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christ ...more
More about Sara Gruen
“When two people are meant to be together, they will be together. It's fate.” 795 likes
“With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.” 756 likes
More quotes…