Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Water for Elephants: Take 2
When I told Alysa that I was going to write an entry for Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, she had already written one. True, she did write an entry on the book, back when she told me I had to read it. And she was right: I had to read it. But write twice about the same book on our blog?
Water for Elephants is an engaging read, filled with the tensions of loss, romance, and power. For me, the book was more about reflection, about an elderly man reviewing his life and his purpose within his 93 years of living. Gruen effectively transitions from past to present throughout the text, alternating between moments of the main characters life now in an assisted living facility to decades earlier when he worked on a circus train. He reflects on what he has lived through and makes connections to his current moments, where what appears to be an emotional end-of-life closing becomes a massive opening for him. One of the actions I loved the most was the mental image that grew inside of me throughout my reading this book. Usually pictures or photos help me "see" more into what I am reading. The photos at the beginning of each chapter did not help me this time; rather it was her writing and storytelling that helped me create a mental movie that still plays inside of me, days after I finished the story.
This was a perfect summer read for me: I got lost in it. There was a magical point somewhere mid-read where the book swallowed me, where I didn't want to put it down, where I wanted to be transported into the story and simply sit within it, listening to the words and viewing the mental movie in my head. The book offered me a chance to step outside of my own life loves and struggles, a gift that good books offer me. What a treat to disappear for a moment, to let myself off the hook of doing, doing, doing, and just read.
So, Alysa, if you are reading this, I am betting you now understand why I had to write this post even though yours was so thorough. I think I needed to remind myself of how important books are to me; the ones, that is, that slow me down and remind me of rich moments I have lived as well as the wonders of right now. I am so glad you told me that I had to read it. You, as is so often true, were right!