When a critic remarks that "Michael Crichton might have produced this had he had a literary sensibility. Thoroughly well-written, grounded in science and a sorrowful sense of human nature, this book is utterly memorable", you pay attention.
Science writer and journalist Laurence Gonzales' debut novel Lucy** is "explosive and daring".
Scientist Jenny Lowe rescued Lucy, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a primatologist from the jungles of the Congo during a civil war uprising and brought her to live in the suburbs of Chicago. It turns out that Lucy's incredible physical and intellectual powers are due to her unique heritage: she is half human and half bonobo. Forced to go public, Lucy becomes an instant and endangered celebrity, accruing marriage proposals and death threats.
"Lucy is irresistible, her predicament wrenching, and Gonzales' imaginative, sweet-natured, hard-charging, and deeply inquisitive thriller will be a catalyst for serious thought and debate", raising profound questions about identity and family, the moral, ethical, and philosophical issues of genetic engineering.
As part of his research, Gonzales observed the largest colony of bonobos in the world at the Milwaukee Zoo, an hour from his home. Bonobo extinction is a real threat, hear and watch the many faceted discussion on the Diane Rehm Show.
For a first person account of working with bonobos in the wild, read Vanessa Woods' Bonobo Handshake : a memoir of love and adventure in the Congo (2010).
Readers interested in relationships between primates and humans will not want to miss Sarah Gruen's Ape House coming out in September. This is her new novel after the blockbuster of a debut Water for Elephants.
** = Starred Reviews (In the interest of full disclosure, reviews are mixed. You be the judge but I LOVED it).