Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Like An Ugly Truth

A Beautiful Truth
by Colin McAdam
305 pages
$9.99 Kindle version
Looee isn't human, but after living with a human family for over a decade, he can no longer relate to his own species. Mr. Ghoul has grown up with a group of chimpanzees that have been studied for more than one generation, but he also has had difficulties socializing with his own kind. Despite the many differences in their upbringings, Looee and Mr. Ghoul are kindred spirits. Will their connection be enough to keep them both alive?

I don't think the title fits at all. There is nothing beautiful in this book, just lots of ugliness, but it's a captivating story and I'm glad that I read it all the way through. I had my doubts, at first, because the beginning is written like lyrics from a Talking Heads song (Once In A Lifetime) - I could even hear the story being narrated in David Byrne's voice. It is told in third person, moving frequently from one POV to the next, giving the reader insight that the characters don't have, but I didn't feel drawn to the story until the various chimp POVs were included. It was strange to feel more connected to the chimps than the humans. (The loose, random writing style left a LOT to be desired.)

The story follows the life of Looee, a chimp captured as baby, raised by a childless human couple. After 14 years with no serious incidents, something devastating changes all of their lives, and Looee is sent to a primate research facility. The living conditions of the test animals is deplorable. I realize this is a work of fiction, but there are scenes that I could hardly stomach, regardless of how the scientists justify their actions. The author does a great job of highlighting the ugliness of animal testing, without the condemnation of the human race that often accompanies this subject matter.

I don't think this is a novel that is going to appeal to a wide range of people, and yet it's one of those stories that is so radically different from most fiction, I think readers should at least attempt to tackle this one. Also, a portion of the novel's sales will go to the chimpanzee sanctuary, Save the Chimps, so it's reading for a cause.

As always,

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