You know Sara Gruen best for Water for Elephants and if you live under a rock and have no idea what I am talking about, then you need to get the book NOW to read. And if you saw the movie and skipped the book, you’re seriously missing out.
“Ape House” is another of Sara Gruen’s novels. This story parallels two lives: John’s life as a struggling journalist and Isabel’s life as a worker with bonobos (apes). Their paths cross when John visits the bonobo center where Isabel works with the animals, who can use American Sign Language, lexigrams, and vocalizations in order to effectively communicate with people and each other.
The lab is blown up after John’s visit, landing Isabel in the hospital and the bonobos onto a reality television show. As details come out about where the bonobos are located, there seems to be something fishy (and maybe illegal) in the way things are being handled.
Will John get his big break with this story? Will Isabel be able to free the bonobos from their awful reality TV life? Who bombed the lab in the first place?
I found “Ape House” to be slow in the beginning, but I think that is mainly because of my expectations from having read “Water for Elephants.” Once I pushed past the first 90 pages or so, I enjoyed the story. However, when asked which novel is better, Elephants wins hands down.
I think it’s really interesting that Sara Gruen actually studied linguistics and lexigrams so that she could communicate with actual bonobos that live at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. Super cool way to research for her novel and be part of science and history!
What can animals do that you find utterly amazing?