Tuesday, January 29, 2013


by Eliot Schrefer
November 2012

"Schrefer (The Deadly Sister) shines a light on an oft-overlooked part of the world with this intense adventure set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When Sophie, a half-American, half-Congolese 14-year-old, visits her mother at a bonobo sanctuary, her biracial origins make her feel out of place, but she finds purpose by bonding with and caring for Otto, an abused juvenile bonobo. Civil war breaks out while Sophie’s mother is away, and Sophie is inadvertently trapped in a country beset by starvation, roving bands of killers, and natural hazards. To stay alive, Sophie and Otto live off the land, travel in secret, and coexist with other bonobos, while seeking escape or refuge from the chaos. Schrefer spares no detail, fully exposing the horrors of war as he chronicles Sophie’s struggle for survival. This drama is clearly written from the heart, smoothly educating readers about the perilous dichotomy of the Congo and the heart-wrenching plight of the endangered bonobo, without sacrificing the intensity of the story. Sophie, meanwhile, demonstrates herself to be tenacious, resourceful, and strong, making decisions that, while not always smart, are driven by compassion."    - Publisher's Weekly

It's been a while since I read this book, so I am just adding a Publisher's Weekly review instead of my own.
I will say that I loved it.  Since I read Bonobo Handshake, this one interested me as soon as I heard about it. The strife and violence going on in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is terrible and makes me so sad.

It was interesting to read this right around the same time that I read Ashen Winter because in both a young person goes on a journey through a dangerous and violent land.

As the book cover shows, this was a National Book Award finalist.  Goblin Secrets by William Alexander was the winner.

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