Endangered by Eliot Schrefer is a YA adventure story set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sophie is a half-American, half-Congolese 14 year old girl who lives in America during the school year and comes to the Congo during the summer months and helps her mother at the Bonobo Sanctuary. As she is both the daughter of the boss and half white, Sophie doesn’t easily fit in with the other workers at the Sanctuary, and she find herself bonding with an abused juvenile bonobo called Otto.
While her mother is away reintroducing some bonobo’s to the wild, civil war breaks out and Sophie finds herself trapped in a country filled with roving bands of killers, facing starvation and natural hazards. To keep herself and Otto, her bonobo, alive they must learn to live off the land, travel in secret, and at times coexist with other bonobos all the while trying to reunite with her mother.
This is a YA story for mature readers who don’t flinch from reading about horrific violence against animals and human beings. Sophie comes across as a very real girl, not always making the best of decisions, but she is courageous and has a huge heart. Otto is fun, smart and loving, he is as protective of Sophie as she is toward him. This is a great story set against a compelling background, with characters (both human and ape) that are very well drawn and realistic. Without becoming overly graphic, the author is well able to illustrate the peril that Sophie faces. Endangered was an excellent read with a riveting story-line that I didn’t want to see end.
i absolutely LOVED this book! it was so captiving and had me at the edge of my seat the WHOLE time! this is a great read and i strongly recommend it!
Sophie is a Congolese-American girl. Like many children with divorced parents, she moves back and forth between her parents' worlds. When in the United States with her American father during the school year, her exotic African-made notebooks are admired and coveted. When in the States with her Congolese mother during summer vacation, Sophie spends the majority of her time on the bonobo sanctuary that her mother founded.
During one of Sophie's visits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fighting ensues in the area surrounding the sanctuary and throughout the country. Separated from her mother, Sophie seeks safety from the violence while striving to protect a young bonobo, named Otto, that has been trusted to her care.
Along with portraying brutality, the novel also frames a conversation about peace and change. Bonobos, like chimpanzees, share an extraordinarily large part of their DNA structure with humans. According to Endangered, humans and bonobos have over 98.7% commonality in their DNA.
Unlike chimpanzees and humans, however, bonobos live in extremely peaceful societies. This is a point that the author makes multiple times throughout the narrative. With enough resources and a societal shift, could humans also live peacefully? This question is the heart of the novel.
In his afterword, Schrefer comments that "[h]ow we treat the environment is inextricably linked with how we treat each other" (257). To provide the reader with more information about conservation, the book contains links to websites for environmental organizations, including the Friends of Bonobos sanctuary that the author visited while researching this book.
Endangered is at its best when describing the interactions between bonobos and humans. A great introduction to the Congo and to this amazing animal for teens. If you have any interest in wildlife, a must read.
This book has been receiving many recommendations in the library and publisher's literature. With good cause. It's a Finalist for the 2012 National Book Award,
Young People's Literature. Sophie, a young American girl, visits her Mother at a Bonobo sanctuary in the Congo. Her first day there, she adopts a young bonobo being treated cruelly. Soon war breaks out and she and the young bonobo, Otto, must make their way to safety. Very exiting, suspenseful and has some realistic details. Perfect for mature tweens and teens wanting to know about environmental causes and the world around them.
This a very well written teen novel that educates us on the bonobos while at the same time emotionally involving its readers into the story of violence in the Congo. While some parts are difficult to read in terms of the extreme violence taking place, the story is so enthralling you'll want to finish reading it in one seating.
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