Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Depression Era, Circus, Animals, Cruelty, Love, Relationships, Violence
When Jacob’s parents die he drops out of veterinary school and accidentally joins the circus where he becomes the vet—he learns a whole new inside lingo, lives on a train, and falls in love with the beautiful wife of the paranoid schizophrenic who terrorizes the animals and not a few of the staff. It is a fascinating look at the cruel and crazy circus world at the time, showing that while some things have greatly improved, others never change (like first love, forbidden romance, coming of age, compassion, the importance of finishing your final exams, you get the idea). The level of detail and insane anecdotes make this worth the read, and the fact that it is told retrospectively by a 90-something Jacob ads a level of maturity to the tale, as well as a fine ending that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Not for the squeamish but I highly recommend for most everyone.