Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm's way.
When he was a boy, Luc's mother would warn him about the "mock men" living in the trees by their home - chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night.
Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn't mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job.
Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family - and must act when that family comes under attack.
As he did in his acclaimed novel Endangered, a finalist for the National Book Award, Eliot Schrefer takes us somewhere fiction rarely goes, introducing us to characters we rarely get to meet. The unforgettable result is the story of a boy fleeing his present, a man fleeing his past, and a trio of chimpanzees who are struggling not to flee at all.
I'd never seen a mock man until the Professor showed me one. I'd heard them, of course many evenings the chimpanzees would scream within the dark trees surrounding my village, their cries too strange for a person and too intimate for an animal. I still hear those shrieks, these years later. Whenever they got too loud, my mother and I would huddle on the floor of our hut, her arms wrapped tight around me. "This is why you must promise always to be home before dark, Luc," she would whisper. "If you're not, you'll become one of the kivili-chimpenze." The mock men.
I'd lean into the scratchy fabric of her boubou and wait for a hairy hand to come through the window. I'd imagine a lumpy head sniffing the air, black eyes staring into mine, lips pulling back from sharp teeth as the mock man lunged. I'd see us carried off into the jungle, one under each of the beast's arms.
My mother's warning worked; I was ...
Luc's greatest lesson – the one that secures his ability to feel at home – comes, in the end, from the chimpanzees themselves. "The chimps were rubbing off on me – no time ever seemed as important to them as right now." So too, Luc grows into a person who can be still, in both mind and body - who can be present and appreciate what is here and what is now. On the Inside or on the Outside, this is a vital lesson to learn and live by. I recommend Threatened to nature lovers, fans of survival stories, and anyone who wants a heart-racing adventure. This novel is marketed at young adults, but older folks will thoroughly enjoy it too.
(Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Full Review (1263 words).
Since the amount of shared genes between humans and non-human primates such as chimps is significant, the animals were once considered valuable test subjects in cutting-edge clinical studies. Essentially, because of this gene overlap, a trial medicine can be tested on a chimp and its subsequent effects used as a reliable signifier of that drug's effect on humans.
Since 2011, the United States and Gabon have been the only two countries in the world that use chimpanzees in medical research. There was a time when other countries did so as well. High-tech drugs, known as monoclonal antibodies, used to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and different kinds of cancers, were among the ones tested on ...
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