"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale

This book should come with a warning. It's absolutely wonderful for the person who LOVES words to the point of madness. It is not for the reader looking for something "light." I admit, I am not sure where to start my review (there was sooo much content), so I may ramble a bit.

Bruno the chimpanzee always wanted to be human…Then Lydia Littlemore, a primatologist, adopts him from a zoo and teaches him how to speak English. The story starts dramatically, humorously, as Bruno’s animal nature clashes with human society and eventually the story spirals deeper into darker more serious material. Cognitive thought, philosophy, art, shame, love, and grief; what it means to be human and the sacrifices Bruno unknowingly makes to become one. Several times during the reading, I laughed, blushed, and cried… I forgot the story was actually written by a human hand and began to think this the story of Bruno, told by Bruno. And more than once I was surprised to find Bruno pointing out ridiculous human concepts that weren’t quite so ridiculous before he pointed them out, providing a unique look into the human psyche.

(I have to stop to acknowledge that a very insightful human author wrote this book.) 

But don’t dive in just yet, there is a reason this story missed out on five stars. Bruno is one wordy chimp with an important message and like the Ents from Lord Of The Rings, Bruno feels nothing is worth saying if it doesn’t take an exceptionally long time to say it… Could the author have done more with less? The world may never know.

So if you traditionally speed read or consistently skip the ‘boring parts’ you are going to miss things. Important things. He’s not saying it for his own pleasure, although he takes pleasure in saying it, but for the benefit of the readers. This book is creatively preachy: in a way, it makes you fearful to be too human, by sharing the skin-crawling injustices done to ‘just an animal’ and the perverse side effects of an animal that just wants to be human.

Overall, I think this was an entertaining read with several driving messages and beautiful characters… But you do need to have patience to sort through the narrative of a chimp with a huge ego and even bigger vocabulary.

(You won’t regret reading this on a kindle---Kindle has a dictionary for those long words you don’t want to admit you don’t already know.)

Rating: 4/5

Review original post date:
Oct 30, 12

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