Desperately Seeking Baby...Babies Found

My thoughts on raising twins and a singleton after infertility.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Book Club - Water for Elephants

It's time for another installment of the Barren Bitches Book Brigade. This month's book club pick was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

First of all, I loved this book. I got all caught up in the story and found it hard to put it down. Now, onto this month's questions!

1. (From the discussion questions at the end of the book) Looking at himself in the mirror, the old Jacob tries "to see beyond the sagging flesh." But he claims, "It's no good....I can't find myself anymore. When did I stop being me?" How would you answer that question for Jacob or for yourself?

This is a question that I heard a lot from those of going through infertility. We became angry and bitter at the world and this is who we used to be and we can't seem to find our way back to the way we were. Infertility changed us sometimes for the worse, but also sometimes for the better. I know that it changed me. For Jacob, I think there were several moments in his life that changed who he was - the moment he found out his parents died and joined the circus. The next when his relationship with Marlena grew and he found out how August really was. And perhaps the final one - when he left the circus. Being with Marlena and the circus was his life. Perhaps he found himself again when he joined the circus one last time.

2. Something that struck me about this book in particular was the rich, descriptive way the author handled Jacob as an elderly man. His frustration was so apparent, his physical manifestation so perfectly described, that of all of the elements of this book Jacob the Elderly is what stays with me. You had the sense that Jacob didn't foresee his latter years being the way they were, and his almost "ride off into the sunset" ending perhaps what he had envisaged for his end. Do you think about what's at the end of the road someday? When you think about it, what do you see for yourself?

All the time. I wonder what the future holds for me. How long will I be at my current job? Will I raise my children well? Will they turn into the adults I envision? Will I be happy with how my life turned out?

As for what I see for myself. Sometimes I get depressed and wonder if we are doing o.k. - am I a good parent? Should I be living closer to family? Should I be more aggressive in finding a different job? Should I be more active in trying to do activities with friends (as a lot of the time, I feel like some of my friendships are fading and that just saddens me)? And I wish a lot I could work less so I can be around my children more.

Then the next moment, I feel happy. Things are going well. I have a wonderful husband, terrific children, cute kitties and great family and friends. I have a good job and a daycare that I feel is a good one.

I do wish I knew sometimes what the future was going to be like for us. There are so many things I would have done differently had I known what was going to happen, and I'm sure there are going to be moment I'll feel that way in the future.

3) What does the title mean to you? Why do you think Sara Gruen chose it as the title?

I wondered while reading this exactly what "Water for Elephants" meant? Was it some old phrase meant to say "hey, I worked on the circus"? I think the title was chosen because of Rosie and what we learn later she did. She never forgot how August treated her versus how Jacob and Marlena treated her. That Dr. Seuss quote at the beginning pretty much summed up for me why I think the title was chosen. An elephant will stay faithful to those who deserve it. So I guess the title means to me not literally giving water to elephants, but rather helping a friend when they need it without being asked. Just being there when they need a friend. Treating people the way you would want to be treated. Staying faithful to those who mean so much to you and helping them at a time when they need you the most. Rosie was a friend to Marlena and Jacob. Rosemary was a friend to Jacob. Jacob was a friend to Walter when he needed it. Marlena to Walter when she helped with his dog, etc.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Empty Picture Frame by Jenna Nadeau (with author participation because she's a blogger!)



  • At 4:27 PM , Blogger loribeth said...

    I've read a couple of possible explanations of the title so far, & I think I relate to yours the best of all! I also like your response to the first question, about how we change in response to the events of our life. Great answers!

  • At 7:52 PM , Blogger Lori said...

    I had totally forgotten about the Seuss quote! You tied that in with the title and the meaning very well.

  • At 6:26 PM , Anonymous Gabrielle said...

    Very nice take on the title. You ladies are making me feel lazy for not digging deeper with that one!

  • At 8:35 PM , Blogger JuliaS said...

    Hmmmmmm - you really got me thinking now, reminding me of the Suess quote. I can see other symbolism there as well that would hold throughout the book and apply to a variety of characters in it.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  • At 8:05 AM , Blogger Deb said...

    Great thoughts on the title. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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