Monday, August 15, 2011

Hurt Go Happy: A YA Project Nim?

Get it at Betterworldbooks where a
book-for-book donation program
just began.  Score one for yourself,
then they give one for literacy.
Take one part child abuse, another part the challenges of growing up deaf in a hearing family, another part animal rights.  Add a dose of middle school drama and a peppering of overprotective parenting bordering on the pathological.  Blend with a kindly old mentor, a coastal rain forest, and a young chimp named Sukari. 

Take it all on a road trip for a coming-of-age story that's also an issue novel and you get Hurt Go Happy.

Our protagonist Joey's a sympathetic and unique teen, coping with daily challenges while secretly trying to learn ASL so she can move beyond the isolation enforced by her guilt-ridden mother.  Our antagonists are many and believable - no super villains, but rather a realistic series of earthly humans making questionable choices with which Joey must contend.  And she's got her share of allies too: again, perfectly imperfect for this contemporary tale.

Plus our author's done her research:  We experience realistic great ape behaviors, learn of their plight in research facilities, and come to understand the challenges of caring for them humanely, and we learn a bit of American Sign Language - with its spacial syntax and often poetic precision - along the way. 

If you or a teen in your life is interested in what it means to be human, what we share with the great apes, and what homo sapiens sometimes do to our physically powerful but politically near-powerless kin, then steer them over to this potentially eye-opening and certainly thought-provoking YA novel. 

My Action: I'm going to round up a crew of people to go see the new documentary Project Nim when it hits my town the week of September 8, then double check that I am not personally consuming any goods or services tested on animals. (I'm pretty vigilant about this, but it's easy for a new product to sneak through...)

I hope y'all will check out the website and consider attending your local showing too.


p.s. Shout out to writer Ms. Rorby who's now an Action Reader!  Welcome, and thank you for using your writing to help young people - and adults as well - take a look at serious moral issues often hidden from view.   Thanks as well for including a section at the back of the novel that makes it easier for those moved by the story of Sukari and Joey to take action on behalf of great apes.


lisa :) said...

Great review and I'm glad you were as touched by the book as I was. I always hesitate to rave too much about books to others for fear of giving people unrealistic expectations about works, though in this case I think Rorby's writing could live up to any amount of high expectations. I have her latest novel The Outside of a Horse on my TBR shelf and I'm looking forward to reading it soon!

Laurie said...

Intriguing title for her new book. Thanks so much for putting me on the trail of this solid YA novel.

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