I'm sorry. I'll admit it, I've been a bad blogger and a bad friend. But there are more pressing issues to talk about today. Namely, an amazing book that I read in six hours today: Water for Elephants.
Life is good for Jacob Jankowski. He's about to graduate from veterinary school and about to bed the girl of his dreams. Then his parents are killed in a car crash, leaving him in the middle of the Great Depression with no home, no family, and no career. Almost by accident, Jacob joins the circus. There he falls in love with the beautiful performer Marlena, who is married to the circus' psychotic animal trainer. He also meets the other love of his life, Rosie the elephant. This lushly romantic novel travels back in forth in time between Jacob's present day in a nursing home and his adventures in the surprisingly harsh world of 1930s circuses. The ending of both stories is a little too cheerful to be believed, but just like a circus, the magic of the story and the writing convince you to suspend your disbelief. The book is partially based on real circus stories and illustrated with historical circus photographs.
So apparently, I am (or was) the only person in the entire world yet to read Water for Elephants. I kid you not. When I started working at the bookstore, I realized how few "Adult Fiction" books I had read, and because everyone was going on about this, I borrowed it from the library.
Basically: Oh my goodness. You know those books that are just so completely honest that you don't even grasp that they're fiction? Yeah, this was one of them. I was about a hundred pages in when I looked at the cover and realized that it was written by Sarah Gruen. Up till that point, I had been completely convinced that it was a real life memoir, or something.
There were parts of this book that were really abrasive. It was one of those books that you can hardly stand to read in a room with other people, in case you start yelling at one of the characters. And they didn't feel like characters--this is the first book I've read in a long time where the people in it felt as real as anyone else in my life.
I noticed something else. The beginning of the book was a big event, sure, but it didn't feel like the beginning. I felt like I was coming in in the middle of something--in the middle of Jacob's life--but in a good way. The story started long before I began reading it, and it will go on long after. I love a book like that, one that never dies.
I would absolutely 11100249348109834% recommend this book. Really, it was just fantastic. It had everything you could look for in a story: love, hate, sex, violence, anger, passion, honesty and tragedy. And I loved every second of it.
Have an amazing New Year, you guys. I'll be better in 2011, I promise.
***Quick addition: this book is apparently going to come out as a movie in 2011 starring, no way, Robert Pattinson. Urrrrgh, I hope he does it some justice.