Thursday, 28 January 2016

Half Brother-Kenneth Oppell

When I read the blurb of this book in the library, I had high expectations for this book. Two scientists, an impressionable child, a chimpanzee, animal rights and cross fostering? Who wouldn't want to read this book? But what I didn't expect is that the book would have me clutching two pillows, crying and screaming and sipping cocoa and realizing that I was changed for life.

Okay, hyperbole fault (Yes, Adi Alsaid, P.S. I love you). But the book was mind blowing-ly amazing and it DID make me cry. A lot. Not only was this a completely different kind of book, it was also something very close to my heart (I can't believe I said that). To have a younger sibling who is significantly younger than you and looks up to you is no different from being a parent. You feel fiercely protective them and fiercely proud of their smallest of small accomplishments. God forbid anyone tell you anything bad about them. You will devour them. You will tear them to pieces. My brother is without doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. He has the most naughty of naughty smiles. His eyes literally crinkle when he has done something bad. To say that I love him, would be grossly undermining it.

The story goes like this: Ben Tomlin's parents are scientists. His father has gotten a grant to conduct a linguistic experiment with a baby chimpanzee in Victoria, Canada. At first, Ben is angry with his father for relocating them from their lives in Toronto, but then,he slowly comes around to accepting the chimpanzee as his little brother; naming him Zan, after Tarzan.

Wikipedia defines cross fostering as:
Cross-fostering is a technique used in animal husbandry, animal science, genetic and nature versus nurture studies, and conservation, whereby offspring are removed from their biological parents at birth and raised by surrogates.
And that is essentially what Zan experienced with the Tomlins. Mrs. Tomlin is basing her doctoral thesis on how Zan is being cross fostered as a human and along the way, gets attached as his mother. Mr. Tomlin on the other hand, is not of the same opinion. He sees Zan just as a lab rat and prefers to be at the edge of the project. But Ben, becomes attached to Zan and truly loves him as his brother and Zan reciprocates the same.

Zan is looked after and observed by graduate students from the university.  But all of them look at him as a project and not as a human with the exception of Peter McIvor, who is nothing like Dr Tomlin.

When Dr. Tomlin does not get a grant from the university and a linguist, Greg Jaworski declares Project Zan a failure, Ben is forced to let go of Zan to a Professor who has an inhumane aspect towards anything that isn't human.

Now, Ben must find a way to rescue Zan with help from his mother,Peter and reluctantly, even his father.

A coming-of-age story with the story of family, love and humanity at it's core makes this a book you MUST read at all costs.

Rating : 5/5

Zoe SUmmers

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