Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen, novelist (b in Vancouver, BC 1969). Raised in London, Ontario, Sara Gruen moved to Ottawa as a young adult, where she attended CARLETON UNIVERSITY and received a BA in English literature. After 10 years in Ottawa Gruen moved to the United States in 1999 to work as a technical writer. When she was laid off 2 years later she decided to try writing fiction. As a dedicated animal lover, Gruen's bestselling novels deal greatly with animals, and she has established herself as a chronicler of both human and human-animal relationships.

Gruen's focus on humans' complicated yet fulfilling relationships with fellow humans and animals alike runs throughout her works. Her first novel, Riding Lessons (2004), and its sequel, Flying Changes (2005), tell the story of Annemarie, a former equestrienne and Olympic contender whose career was ended by a tragic accident at the age of 18. Now, 20 years later, Annemarie has returned to her dying father's home with her teenaged daughter, where she struggles to come to terms with her faltering human relationships and her unresolved experiences with HORSES.

Sara Gruen's best-known work is her third novel, Water For Elephants (2006), which chronicles the story of 23-year-old Jacob Jankowski's summer working on a travelling circus as a veterinarian. Told as a series of memories from the perspective of Jacob, now in his nineties, the historical romance focuses a great deal on the circus' many animals, particularly an elephant named Rosie. It presents circus life during the GREAT DEPRESSION while exploring MENTAL HEALTH, illusion and reality, and the interpersonal dynamics of love triangles. The book's paperback edition was a New York TimesBESTSELLER and the novel has been translated into 44 languages. A film adaptation was released in 2011.

In 2010 Gruen released her fourth novel, Ape House, after becoming fascinated with LANGUAGE acquisition and cognition in great apes. While working on the novel Gruen received a rare invite to visit the Great Ape Trust, a scientific research facility in Des Moines, Iowa dedicated to understanding the culture, language and intelligence of great apes. The novel tells the story of a group of Bonobo apes who are kidnapped from a language laboratory, only to mysteriously appear as the stars of a reality television show shortly afterward, suggesting just how alike humans and apes can be. Focusing on issues surrounding ANIMAL rights and EVOLUTION, Ape House teaches readers not only about the Bonobo apes, but about themselves as humans as well.

Gruen lives in North Carolina with her husband, 3 sons and many animals, including horses, dogs, cats and goats. She is a supporter of numerous charitable organizations that help and protect both domestic animals and WILDLIFE, and she donates a portion of the revenue from each of her books to various animal-related charities, including Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary, the only sanctuary in the world for the endangered Bonobo ape, and the Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary.

See alsoPOPULAR LITERATURE IN ENGLISH.