Friday, February 17, 2012

Unspoken by Angela Hunt

Unspoken book cover

We humans are notorious for bonding with our animals. I keep no secrets about how much I love my little Wilson and I have many friends and family who feel the same way about their pets.

Angela Hunt has taken this human desire to bond with animals and written a beautiful story in Unspoken.  I had the pleasure of attending a seminar that Angela taught last November. One of her sessions was all about evoking emotion in our readers and she used this novel as an example. I can assure you that there was much emotion being evoked that afternoon. The section she read brought many in the room to tears and I had to go home and download the book to my Nook.

Sema, the main character of Unspoken, is a gorilla and is one of those amazing fictional characters that will stick with you long after the book is done. Her story is one of love at the deepest level.  Angela has woven a tale of hope, love, sadness, joy. She has taken the depths of human emotion and infused them into a relationship between a human and a primate and when all is said and done I couldn’t help but be touched by the beauty of it.

Unspoken is the story of Glee, a woman who worked with primates at the zoo. In an act of love and compassion she nurtured a newborn gorilla named Sema when the mother gorilla wouldn’t have anything to do with her.

Glee loved Sema as a mother would love a child. She took her home and raised her as she studied her. Sema learned sign language as part of Glee’s work with her. Glee was convinced that she could teach the gorilla to read and communicate in ways that had never been done with a gorilla before.

When Sema was eight the administrator of the zoo decided that Sema needed to be reintroduced to the primates at the zoo. The previous administrator had let Glee take her home, but she was still the legal property of the zoo. Though Glee tried to fight the order to return Sema she was forced to take her back to the zoo.

As the gorilla learns to interact with other primates Glee learns a lesson every parent has to learn at some point. She has to learn to let go and allow her child to travel her own path.

Unspoken is a wonderful book that left a lasting impression with me. After the last page was turned I found myself wanting to go to the zoo and visit the primate house.

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