…by Sara Gruen.
Jacob Jankowski, a ninety year old man in an old age nursing home, recollects his life back when he was in his twenties as a conversation he overhears at the nursing home triggers his memories. He recalls how, only days before his final exams, the last step towards becoming a veterinarian, he gets the news that his parents passed away. He tells the story of how that incident changed his life – how he decides not to go back to school to finish his exams; how he comes to join a circus group as a vet; how he meets all these different characters while working there; how he falls in love with a married woman. Alternating between the life back then and life now, Jacob tells his readers everything from what happened back then to how he misses it all now, from how life transformed as he got a chance to be a part of a circus to how it led to what life has become now.
The first thing that attracted me to the book was the cover and the title of the novel. It intrigued me enough to make me order the book even without knowing what it was all about. And once I started reading it, the first few chapters got me hooked. But after having read the whole book, I have mixed feelings about it.
On the one hand, the setting of the story is different…something that I haven’t read before. I got to know a lot of things about life of a person working for a circus after reading this book. I don’t know how much of it is true to comment on whether or not it’s authentic, but since it was unlike anything I’ve read before, it held my interest.
On the other hand, the story itself didn’t come out as something exceptional. At least not as good as some people made it to be. Everyone that saw me reading the book commented that it was a good read and that the story was amazing. But I didn’t feel that way. For me, the story wasn’t anything out of the ordinary; rather it was very one-dimensional, too plain. As I was reading, I kept expecting something dramatic to happen, but that never did; it was predictable all the way through. And the writing – I didn’t care for it much either. It’s easy to read and follow, yes; but neither was it gripping, nor did it do anything to compensate for the depth that the story lacked.
Overall, a nice novel if you want to read a story set in a backdrop different than usual, but do not get into it expecting anything profound.
My rating: 4*.
*for the rating scale, click here.