I've had this book sitting on my bookshelf for months never quite getting the opportunity to open its cover but once I did the first page held my attention and I couldn't put this story down.
Jumping between 1931 to present day (where this story is told by a 93 year old main character) we follow the story of a 23 year old Cornell vet student named Jacob Jankowski who has just recently lost his parents in a car accident. With no place to call home or a job as his fathers partner in a vet clinic after graduation, he jumps a train carrying The Benzini Brothers circus and lands a job as the acts traveling vet in a country struggling with the depression and prohibition.
Not only is the history of this country vibrant in this book but the history of the circus as well including its unique language. Each town the circus stopped in drummed up great excitement. You could imagine the colors, smells, shows, and music traveling through the air. But once on the train and moving, the curtain was opened, and the author explains an ugly side to the circus in a job market that was offering the citizens nothing and allowing those who scavenge the chance to succeed.
The characters, both human and animal, are complex with visible lines between good vs. evil.
I really enjoyed this book. The chapters flow smoothly making it a really well written novel. You can't help but love, hate, or sympathize with the characters. I ended up reading this book it in a day and a half, sad when it finally ended. I recommend it as a wonderful, quick summer read!