This was a really fun read. It has drawn a lot of comparisons to Water for Elephants but I think that’s an insult to Sam Torode. I can only imagine the reason is that The Dirty Parts of the Bible is also set during the Great Depression, that parts of it also happen on a train, and the story is set in motion by an automobile accident involving the protagonist’s father. The similarities end there, however.
First of all, Tobias Henry is a much more likable fellow than Jacob Jankowski on almost every front. For all that he is almost as helpless as Jankowski, Tobias at least realizes as much. And when push comes to shove (and in all fairness to JJ, it does take a few pushes and shoves to get him moving) Tobias does at least take control of his own fate.
Secondly, it’s just a much better story. The characters and events are all more believable.
The story was an enjoyable one with real humor and just a touch of pathos. If I had to nitpick anything, it would be with the character of Craw. I don’t think that his role in the book was all that realistic for the time and place. While certain elements were plausible, others were just a little far-fetched, more so even than the ‘fantasy’ elements of the story. But that’s a rather small nit in an overwhelmingly good book.