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water for elephantsTold from the perspective of a ninety year old man, Jacob, the narrative flashes back and forth between present day and his memory of his time in the circus during the depression. Jacob begins reminiscing because the circus has come to the nursing home. His memories take you on quite a trip as he recalls meeting and falling in love with his wife as well as the death of his parents which led him in a roundabout way to work at the circus. The story is filled with adventure and the love story is sweet.

Before reading this book, I was told it would be hard to read because of the descriptions of the violence towards the animals. I think the more problematic part of the book is the description of how we treat the elderly. There is some brutal honesty through the eyes of Jacob who describes the humiliation of being washed by others, helped to the toilet by nurses and being relatively ignored by family.

It worries you, especially if you are older. Nursing homes have never been a place I like to go. When we were younger, we had an adopted grandmother through the nursing home, but I never knew what to say to her. We didn’t go regularly to visit and decided one day we should stop by only to find that she had died some two months earlier. I felt such guilt!

This book was a best-seller when it came out and I can understand why. It’s fast paced and easy to read. It has already been made into a movie which should be released soon. I recommend the book and am looking forward to the movie…