Laurence Gonzales,
(Knopf, 2010)

Lucy is delightful, charming, bright and loving. She is everything she was genetically engineered to be.

Lucy is the product of of an ingenious, if mad, experiment. A cross between a human and a bonobo ape, she exemplifies the best traits of both. Like a bonobo, she is peace-loving and community-minded; like a human, she is smart and resourceful.

After impregnating (scientifically, not intimately) Leda, a bonobo, British researcher Donald Stone provides the offspring Lucy with an ideal jungle childhood, cut short when a rebel militia invades their remote camp. Though both Stone and Leda are killed, Lucy survives the attack and is quickly shuttled out of the country by neighboring primatologist Jenny Lowe, who takes her to her Chicago home.

Once in the U.S., Lucy begins the life of an average American teen; school, shopping and MySpace replace swinging through trees and snacking on jungle fruits.

At this point, the story runs the risk of becoming trite, as Lucy discovers the post-industrial world. But author Laurence Gonzales deftly avoids this by having given Lucy a vast reading library in her jungle home, detailing Stone's plan to send Lucy to England for college, so she is more than ready when she encounters television.

When the scientists come, as eventually they must, Lucy combines her skill sets, both animal and human, to outmaneuver them and save her life. Her ingenuity saves this from degenerating into a sci-fi thriller.

Lucy becomes only more enchanting as the book goes along. The characters are well developed and the relationships ring achingly true. I found myself looking forward to going to bed just to get back to her story.

review by
Katie Knapp

12 June 2010

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