Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos, she’s not thrilled to be there. Then Otto, an infant bonobo, comes into her life, and for the first time she feels responsible for another creature.
But peace does not last long for Sophie and Otto. When an armed revolution breaks out in the country, the sanctuary is attacked, and the two of them must escape unprepared into the jungle. Caught in the crosshairs of a lethal conflict, they must struggle to keep safe, to eat, and to live.
In sixth grade, I wrote a report on Diane Fossey, and for months afterwards I was obsessed with great apes. Reading Endangered brought me right back to that love for great apes and those working to save them. The book was incredibly well researched, but it never read like a textbook. Actually, Endangered was exactly the opposite of boring; parts of it were heart-pounding and tense, while others were tender and sweet.
In a book about endangered animals in a war-torn country, suffering and survival are bound to be central ideas. With Sophie and Otto, Shrefer does an excellent job of keeping animal suffering from falling into the shadow of human suffering. Readers will love all of the characters, human and ape, that appear on the pages. Schrefer's portrayal of bonobos as nearly-human creatures, but also as wild animals, is a perfect balance of respectful and adorable.
Endangered is clearly a product of deep interest in Congo and love for bonobos. This is a book that I'll remember for a long time and one that I highly recommend.
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