Just as Jacob Jankowski is to sit his final veterinary exams at Cornell, he learns that his parents have been killed and he is penniless. He jumps aboard a passing train and finds himself in the circus world. The time period is the 1930s and it is a time of struggle. The circus rolls into town, sets up and goes on to the next town. It is a place for misfits, drifters, freaks and people who don't fit in.
Jacob soon becomes the circus vet and the circus soon becomes the proud owner of Rosie, an elephant. Rosie unfortunately is untrainable until Jacob happens upon the method to get her to perform.
There are many wonderful characters in this book. Marlena, the beautiful horse back rider is married to August, the animal trainer. August has severe anger issues and everyone is afraid of him. There is Walter, the midget whom Jacob gets to bunk with.
This is a great book about love, love for another human and a love of animals. It is wonderfully written and a very compelling read.
First Line: "Only three people were left under the red and white awning of the grease joint: Grady, me and the fry cook."