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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Endangered, by Eliot Schrefer

The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good.

When one girl has to follow her mother to her sancuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. It's her mother's passion, and she'd rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle. Together, they will fight to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.

Sophie is half Congolese and half Italian-American. After spending time in the States with her father after her parents divorce, she is "home" in the Congo to visit her mother for the summer.

Sophie's mother started and runs a sanctuary and habitat for bonobos, which are considered little more than a food source by most in the Congo. She has to play by some very strict rules (both the government's and her own) in order to protect the animals she helps. So, Sophie buying one from a street merchant on her way from the airport to the sanctuary causes more trouble than good. There's nothing to be done now, the infant bonobo needs help, and it's up to Sophie to take care of him.

When revolution breaks out, no one is safe, especially a young girl from the "wrong" tribe AND half American and carrying a young bonobo. But Sophie is committed to saving Otto.

I read this book thinking it was non-fiction, then realized at the end that it's not. (The author is male. That should've been a clue.) But it reads that way, which is why even boys will read it.

It's a survival and acceptance story. Sophie is gritty and surprisingly mature for someone about to enter high school. I do wish there was some more research, specifically more about the Congo, its culture, and its political climate. Admittedly, though, Schrefer tells us that the story is the Sophie/Otto story, not the Congo.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Scholastic, Inc. through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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