Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Sara Gruen  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Other

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1969 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Illinois Connection

Gruen and her family lived in Grayslake, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Sara Gruen is an author with dual Canadian and American citizenship. She moved to the United States from Ottawa in 1999 for a technical writing job. Laid off two years later, she started writing fiction about animals. Gruen loves animals. Her third book, ''Water for Elephants'', became a ''New York Times'' bestseller and is available in 43 languages. It was made into a major motion picture in 2011 and starred Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz and is now headed to Broadway. Gruen currently resides in North Carolina.

Published Works

  • Riding Lessons, Harper Torch, 2004
  • Flying Changes, Harper Torch, 2005
  • Water for Elephants, Algonquin, 2006
  • Ape House: A Novel, Spiegel & Grau, 2010
  • At the Water’s Edge, Spiegel & Grau, 2015
  • Dear Henry, Spiegel & Grau, 2016

Selected Titles At Your Library

Riding lessons /
ISBN: 0739439820. OCLC Number:

HarperTorch,. New York :. ©2004.

Twenty years after a tragic accident destroyed her riding career, Annemarie Zimmer returns to her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm with her troubled teenage daughter and encounters two men who could change her life.

Flying changes /
ISBN: 0739460641. OCLC Number:

HarperTorch,. New York :. ©2005.

On the verge of turning forty, Annemarie Zimmer struggles to cope with the changes in her life as well as her anxieties over her relationship with the man she loves, her equestrian daughter's dreams of Olympic glory, and her own past.

Water for elephants :
ISBN: 1565124995. OCLC Number:

Algonquin Books,. Chapel Hill, N.C. :. ©2006.

A novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932. When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.--From publisher description.

Ape house :
ISBN: 0385523211. OCLC Number:

Spiegel & Grau,. New York :. 2010.

When a family of bonobo apes who know American Sign Language are kidnapped from a language laboratory, their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show propels scientist Isabel Duncan, together with reporter John Thigpen, on a personal mission to rescue them. An entertaining book that calls into question our assumptions about these animals who share 99.4% of our DNA.

At the water's edge :
ISBN: 0385523238. OCLC Number:

. .

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year's Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis's father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son's inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie's horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father's favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster. When he finds it, he will restore his father's name and return to his father's good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie's social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.


Ape House

  • American Book Association IndieBound best seller
  • New York Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, Denver Post, L.A. Times, and Publishers Weekly best seller
  • Water for Elephants

  • A New York Times best seller for over four years
  • No.1 best seller on New York Times, Boston Globe, Denver Post, L.A. Times, Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, and Washington Post
  • USA Today and Wall Street Journal best seller
  • American Book Association IndieBound best seller
  • No.1 IndieNext selection
  • Riding Lessons

  • USA Today best seller

    Speaking Engagements

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