Sophie goes to Congo to stay with her mother, who is an advocate for bonobos in the war torn country. It's hard to leave her father in Florida, but she gets caught up in her mother's mission when she buys a young bonobo from a trader on the street. Her mother isn't happy about this-- giving the man money will only make him go and kill more bonobos to get their babies to sell. Sophie enjoys raising Otto, however, and he acts as if Sophie were his mother. When a coup occurs in the city, the country is thrown into chaos. Sophie is supposed to be airlifted out of the country, but refuses to leave Otto behind. Her mother is off resettling bonobos, and the sanctuary is attacked. Sophie escapes into the forest, and eventually tries to make her way to the city. Danger is everywhere, but she and Otto manage to survive. They eventually make their way to a UN camp, but Sophie is still unwilling to give up Otto, so the two head out to try to find her mother.
Strengths: This was nominated for the National Book Award, and I really hope it wins. An exciting adventure story that rings true to life-- I'd like to think that Sophie would forget about Otto and keep her own safety first and foremost, but what she does is realistic for a teenager. Weaknesses: Horrible cover. Horrible. I've had a few books about gorilla sanctuaries over the years, and they've been hard to move. This was nominated for the Cybils Awards as well, but moved to Young Adult fiction for the violence.
Because this blog is aimed at librarians and patrons of school libraries, I will not review books that are published solely in e-book formats or that are self published. Books should be available in hardcover or library binding through library suppliers such as Baker and Taylor or Follett. Books should fall within the target demographics of this blog.