Schrefer, Eliot. Rescued (Ape Quartet #3)
April 26th 2016 by Scholastic Press
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central
John's father travels to Africa with his job at a food distributor, and illegally brings back an Orangutan. Raja starts as a cute baby who is glued to John's side, but eventually becomes a rather large and sometimes violent pet to have. When John's father and mother divorce, his father ends up with Raja, and his mother ends up with John. The two shared such a bond, however, that even after Raja bites off John's finger when the two have been separated because of an ongoing illness, John still wants to be with him. John's father falls on hard times and has to give up Raja, which is difficult to do, since few places in the States can take wild animals. Eventually, a place is found at a roadside attraction, and John knows that this is not the place for Raja, who has become a very dear friend to him. John contacts one of the caretakers, Nancy, who helps him figure out a way to return Raja to Indonesia. It's not as easy task, and a lot of strings have to be pulled. Once back in his native land, there is no guarantee that Raja will be safe, but John contents himself that at least he will be free.
While thematically tied to this author's Endangered and Threatened, Rescued can easily be read on its own. Schrefer has clearly done his research into the plight of wild animals both in captivity and in the wild, and the details (as well as notes at the back) will help to sensitize readers to a wide variety of topics concerning the plight of animals that share so many human characteristics that the boy in the book considers Raja a brother.
Students who have read Applegate's The One and Only Ivan and Rorby's Hurt Go Happy will find that this book shows a more mature understanding of the injustices done to animals because of human whims. It's especially interesting because John always seems to have known that having Raja with him is wrong, but he is more concerned at first about doing right by his friend and not considering the plight of animals in general until Raja is going to be taken out of his care. The disintegration of John's family also adds a more mature element to the book.