A young man joins the circus and finds himself in a menagerie of trouble.
This engaging story provides a unique snapshot of a fantastic and unusual sort of life. Gruen creates a singular portrait of the secret world of a traveling circus, but also of Depression-era American life. It's a romantic and desperate tale about what people do when they have nowhere else to go.
I was not quite as impressed with the book as I wanted to be after hearing so much about it, but I still enjoyed reading it. Some of the dialogue seemed loosely drawn and I wanted to see a bit more complexity in the characters. Rosie the elephant was the character who grew the most over the course of the book, and she was easily my favorite. I would have liked to hear more details about the performers and the working men and the book could easily have been a bit longer.
The story is framed by the recollections of a man in his 90s. This device allows the story to be sweet and sad as well as exciting and romantic. The depiction of Jacob as a very old man was very well done, and I was definitely rooting for him at the end. I would recommend this book as a flat out enjoyable read, even though it leaves you wanting more.
Sara Gruen's website, including information about the upcoming film
Currently listed at $4.00 for the Kindle edition, though I think I paid $6.00 last week
What are some other good stories that are told as memories and flashbacks? How does the frame affect your reading of the story?