Monday Book Review: Ape House

Happy Monday Ya’ll! I hope you all had wonderful weekends. If any of you read last week, you know I was pretty sick with the flu. Well it looks like I have kicked this flu (the one the lasts most people I’ve talked to about a month) in a week! I’m not quite back to 100% but definitely a functioning human rather than a zombie. I will be writing a post on how I did that for tomorrow, but TODAY…today I will tell you about an amazing book I recently read.


It’s called Ape House and it’s by Sara Gruen, the same author who wrote Water for Elephants. I was in love with that book (and movie) so when I saw another of her novels on sale at Barnes and Noble, I had to snatch it up. I read this book in 48 hours. It’s amazing.

No spoil summary: The main character Isabel works at a language lab with six bonobo monkeys. While the lab does amazing and very humane work, there are nay sayers who decide that they know better (as with everything in life, right?). Finally, they take matters into their own hands and a tragic drama ensues. Gruen is fantastic at making the reader feel the monkeys’ and their caretakers’ pain as they fight a long road from imprisonment back to freedom.

Why it’s special: The lab in this book is based on a real language lab in Des Moines, Iowa. Gruen spent a lot of time at the real lab, with the real monkeys and came to regard them as friends. You can feel her reverence for the monkeys in the way she wrote this book. They become human, real people, whom you relate to with empathy and joy. I think the main character is very much like Gruen in her complete love for the remarkable animals in her life.

The coolest part: I had no idea what bonobo monkeys were before reading this book. Turns out, they’re really fricken cool! Talk about smart. I would love to meet these monkeys in real life but they’re apparently very picky about who they become friends with. Basically, just read the book, it completely changes your perception of “human-like” monkeys and the labs that research and care for them.

Has anyone else read this book? Did you like it?

I hope you’re all having wonderful days and are settling into 2013 🙂



3 thoughts on “Monday Book Review: Ape House

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Ash. I read it and liked it–the research really is fascinating, isn’t it? The SD Zoo had bonobos-they make a LOT of noise! Stay healthy & warm–put some meat on those bones! lol

  2. Tina

    Ashely, I am glad your feeling better. I have been down this past week myself. I don’t think it was the flu just a miserable cold I think I caught from a choughing kid in an elevator on our cruise. Thankfully I didn’t get sick until we got home. Then to come back to Illinois weather:(


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