Sunday, December 30, 2012

Greatest Torment, Greatest Treasure

EndangeredEndangered by Eliot Schrefer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer started popping up on my radar through the various authors, educators, and agents I follow on Twitter. I knew nothing about it, but trusted the positive social media attention--and so, I will be adding it to my classroom library on Wednesday and book talking it to my classes. I loved the many layers the book was built upon:

a) it is a difficult, harrowing, journey akin to Linda Sue Park's A Long Walk to Water
b) as a reader I learned about the endangered bonobo ape
c) the palliative exposure of some of the political realities of the Congo
d) the strong and detailed writing had me wondering and second-guessing if this was non-fiction (it is fiction)

Ultimately, the strongest layer is the element of suffering. My gosh, so much suffering permeates these pages. Both human and animal.

Within the Q&A With Eliot Schrefer, the author notes:
"The moment I knew the bonobos would become a novel, though, was when I read about Kinsuke, an orphan who had arrived at the bonobo sanctuary too frail to survive. In her final moments, she had held tightly to the rope that her captors had used to restrain her, refusing to let it go. It was her only possession left after everything else had been taken from her, and she died clutching it to her cheek. Sometimes your greatest torment can also be your greatest treasure."

Endangered is challenging and moving; fictional and informative; alarming and humbling. Schrefer's story bridges the divide between YA fiction and adult fiction because it does not matter that a high school girl, Sophie, takes us on this journey. What matters is that so many human beings and animals suffer this journey every day.

It makes me feel grateful to be where I am and who I am. It also makes feel that familiar awe for the power of storytelling that had been missing from my book pile until just recently.

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