Friday, February 16, 2007

Water for Elephants

by Sara Gruen
Published: 2006
331 pages

Genre: Fiction

The pages turn easily as the plot quickly thickens. Beginning with an action-packed scene, Gruen shows the great potential of this novel with fluidity and a touch of mystery.
Chapter One introduces Gruen's reminiscent technique through the eyes of Jacob Jankowski. From then on, there are several indications as to where the plot will lead. The plot is, at times, predictable; however, this is overshadowed by the delightful writing style Gruen implements to convey the protagonist's rich emotion. In addition, there are elements of the circus that are, at once, shocking and even romantic.
The circus has frightening secrets that are exposed as they become a reality for the young veterinary student. The circus is an enigmatic event that disappears as fast as it emerges. The detail used provides explicit images of circus life, which gives a clear notion of the world in which the circus performers and workers lived. The alluring, magical circus reveals its romantic qualities through the workers, performers, the audience, and even the animals that are involved.
Love develops on many levels, and it is discovered and explored through circumstances that are not necessarily ideal. A man's strength is tested, and his intentions are questioned.
Sara Gruen portrays her novel sweetly, with charm, and intelligence.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls
288 pages

Genre: Memoir

Inspiring. Jeannette Walls' memoir is an intimate portrayal of her life, growing up with two unconvential parents. "The Glass Castle" is touching on so many levels. From the eyes of a young child, Walls elloquently shows the unconditional love that a daughter has for her parents, especially her father. A bond such as a that of a father and daughter is untouchable and heart-warming. The way she views her father is beautiful, pure, and real--despite his faults, Jeannette is able to see her father's greatness. As I close my eyes, I can see the twinkle in her eyes as she and her father tackle the world together.
Juxtaposing these sympathetic feelings, it is also heartbreaking when Jeannette finally comes to understand the real and utterly painful truth that her father's lifestyle is not condusive of that of a family man.
Walls' crystal-clear memories invite readers to experience her childhood with her. I felt like a silent member of the family, travelling with them on their "adventures." Leaving Battle Mountain, the place where Jeannette finally felt at home, made me feel just as sentimental--I sympathized with her loss, yet I was just as excited as she for her next adventure.
Beautifully written, "The Glass Castle" has a many unique qualities, which include humor, persevearance, familial struggles, life lessons, family unity, individuality, and coming-of-age. With never a dull moment, I found enjoyment and interest on every page.

Score: 5.0