What an enjoyable book! I wasn’t sure this book would be for me because of the circus setting, and I’ve never been a circus fan. However, I kept hearing how great it is and I made a promise to myself to read it this year. I ended up liking it quite a bit. The characters are well rounded and believable. The story flows nicely with descriptive details that set the tone of the era. It’s obvious the author did her homework with the historical facts and the behind the scenes info on the circus.Water for Elephants tells the life recollections of “93 or 95″ year old Jacob Jankowski. He is in a nursing home and reflecting on his life spent with his wife and children, and the memorable time he spent working as a vet for the Benzini Brothers circus. The story is told in present day at the nursing home and flashbacks to 1931 to the circus.This book was fascinating and held my interest with all of the details of life at the circus. The story has drama, romance, friendships and suspense. All of the main and side characters are intriguing and help to paint a vivid picture of the circus life. The animals also play a big part in the book, especially lovable Rosie the elephant. Regarding the animals, I was expecting the scenes of animal cruelty, but it was still hard for me to read. The book was educational and helped me to look at the time period and at circuses in general in a new way.My goal was to finish this book before I saw the movie, but I didn’t quite make it. I read about 80% of it before the movie. I’m glad it turned out that way though, since it made the movie ending a surprise.I recommend this book to any fiction readers or anyone who liked the movie. This one is a good crossover book for YA fans- it is a fast read, and a good historical, with interesting characters and relationships. I’m curious to read more from Sara Gruen.