Ape House – Sara Gruen

This is hands down another favorite for 2010 !! I laughed, cried, nodded my head up and down, was completely glued to the book from the first word the last.  From the first few sentences I was immediately hooked, line and sinker.  When I absolutely had to take a break, I did what I had to do right away and I rushed right back to the book.  I think I started around 2 pm and finished it at about 4 am.  I am climbing to my rooftop and screaming from the rafters GO AND GET THIS BOOK !!!

Isabel is one of the scientists at the Great Ape Language Lab.  John Thigpen is a reporter who is meeting Isabel as well as the bonobos apes.  They are unlike any other ape alive in existence.  They are capable of reasoning, carrying on deep relationships, AND they know American Sign Language.

When John and Isabel meet for the first time at the lab, both of them are clueless as to what will happen next.  The apes love John who is a stranger to them all, but he’s stacked the deck a bit.  He brought them treats like backpacks, M & M’s, other things they adore.

Once John returns home to his wife who is struggling with day-to-day everyday things after she wrote a novel, shortly after her novel was published, she lost her agent as well as her publisher.  Isabel is at the lab talking, interacting with the apes, as well as adding notes to the research they are conducting with them, when a bomb goes off just outside the lab.  Isabel is seriously hurt, the apes flee to the trees, and John’s in-laws have come for a visit.

There have been animal rights protesters on the grounds of the university as well as the lab.  Nothing like this has ever happened before. They haven’t intruded on anything that the researchers have been doing so far.

When John finds out, he and his wife jump on the next plane – He to the Animal Lab, she to Los Angeles to start her new career as a comedy show writer.  Once John arrives, it is chaos.  He isn’t allowed to see Isabel, his ex partner of his former paper has almost scooped him once again.

Did I mention the apes have been sold by the university, sold to an unidentified buyer.  A few weeks later, a mysterious show airs on cable tv called Ape House.  Can you guess who is starring?

Full of laugh out loud entertainment, with a smattering of everything in between this book will literally have you laughing on the floor, crying, mad, the whole gamut of feelings and fears all rolled into one.

Will John save not only the ape family, but his own family as well?  Will Isabel recover from her life threatening injuries to begin again with the apes.  Will the apes remember any of the people who were previously in their lives?

The amount of research that Sara did for this novel is nothing short of amazing.  She had to study linguistics and a system of lexigrams so that she would be able to communicate with the Bonobos who live at the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa.  Even then after doing the courses she did, there wasn’t any guarantee that she would be introduced to the apes.  They are selective as to who they meet and when.  If you are ill, you will not be let in to interact with them.  It is stated in the book that their DNA is 97% the same as ours, so if we have a virus, they are susceptible to it as well.

You will absolutely fall in love with Sara’s writing as well as the Apes she uses in her novel – guaranteed.  The apes are simply amazingly stunning.

Random House – Bond Street Books

Sara’s Website

The Great Ape Trust

Read an Excerpt

Reading Guide


3 thoughts on “Ape House – Sara Gruen

  1. i have a feeling i’m going to be in the minority here but after water for elephants i found this slow and rather boring…very disappointing!

  2. It is different for sure compared to Water for Elephants, I can see what you mean. But, separately, it is a wonderfully written book, I was hooked from the first page.

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