Bound To Stay Bound

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Booklist - 02/01/2014 Schrefer’s Endangered (2012) painted a compassionate portrait of the bonobos of the Congo; here he turns to Gabon, chimpanzees, and the plight of orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS. Luc lives with other young orphan boys under the roof of Monsieur Tatagani, an unscrupulous man who exploits his charges. Professor Abdul Mohammad, a prosperous-looking Arab, meets Luc and hires him as his assistant, taking him deep into the jungle to study chimpanzees. Luc discovers he has an interest and aptitude for the work, and he thrives under Prof’s tutelage. All too soon, though, Prof disappears under mysterious circumstances, and Luc must survive on his own. With only Prof’s tiny pet vervet for company, Luc watches and learns from the chimps. When humans again appear, it’s clear we as a species are far less civilized than the chimps. Of special note is the tender, nonjudgmental portrait of Prof, a closeted gay man who lies about most things, but provides the first caring home Luc has known in years. Schrefer’s landscape descriptions are rich and evocative, and his characters, both human and chimpanzee, are complex and fascinating. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 02/01/2014 Gr 7 Up—After the death of his mother and sister, Luc is left in the hands of a moneylender, Monsieur Tatagani. One of many orphans forced to do Tatagani's bidding, Luc has found a way to be useful and earn a few coins wiping glasses in a bar in Gabon. One night a man shows up with a monkey and a silver attaché case, claiming to be a researcher sent by the National Geographic Society to study the chimpanzees in the interior. The mysterious man, called "the Prof," offers Luc a job as his helper. From this modest beginning comes a tale of survival and discovery for both humans and chimps. There are no easy answers here, but deep themes are explored. The plight of the endangered chimps is brought to the attention of readers, as are the challenges of socioeconomic status and geographic realities of Gabon. There are times when Luc's voice as an uneducated orphan adolescent seems vivid and real, at other times less so. Still, the valor and soul of Luc is captivating. Fascinating and sure to lead to discussion.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2014 Luc, a Gabonese AIDS orphan who expects to be indebted forever to the corrupt man who paid his deceased mother’s hospital bills, seizes an opportunity to pilfer a metal suitcase, hopefully full of money, from an Arab man in a street cafe. The plan doesn’t work quite the way he intended: “Professor” Abdul Muhammad of the University of Leipzig instead pays off Luc’s creditor on the condition that Luc accompany him as a research assistant in his study of chimpanzees in a remote region of Gabon. Luc’s no angel and knows a scam when he sees one, but he figures he will re-steal the suitcase and abandon Prof as soon as he can. What Luc doesn’t count on is his growing bond to the shady researcher who is clearly not all he claims to be, and to the chimpanzees that Luc has been taught to fear all his young life. As in Endangered (BCCB 1/13), Schrefer focuses on the delicate, fraught nature of contact between humans and their primate kin and conveys in vivid detail the individual and communal behaviors that seldom enjoy such rich, unanthropomorphized treatment in fiction. Luc’s and Prof’s marginalized status within their own cultures demands thoughtful comparison with the chimpanzees that struggle to define their roles in the group, but Schrefer respectfully declines to turn the chimps into mini-mes with recognizably human emotion and motivation. Readers are again treated to a thought-provoking study of endangered creatures—both the poached and hunted chimpanzees and the exploited and neglected children with little hope. Notes on Gabon and on Schrefer’s research are included. EB - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

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