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Reviewed by Christine Nguyen for Readers' Favorite
The Language of Kin by Lynne Hugo is an intricate tale about attempts to rehabilitate a severely mistreated chimp named Eve, who was brutally taken from her mother at the vulnerable age of three and put into cruel experimental labs for eight long years. Renowned primatologist Kate and up-and-coming Marc work at the Ohio Zoo where they have opposing views on what approach is best in adjusting chimps to their new habitat. Little do they know that their private lives parallel each other as both bear the responsibility for the well-being of their respective mothers. Kate and Marc find common ground as Marc’s deaf mother teaches Kate’s mother sign language. Office politics at the zoo intervene and place Kate and Marc on opposite sides as the welfare of Eve the chimp is put on a tenuous hold.
The Language of Kin is a compelling story about how so many chimps like Eve are brutally captured as babies and made to suffer in experimental laboratories for selfish human interests. My compassion and attention were captured immediately by Lynne Hugo’s painful and bloody introduction of how bush hunters murder big groups of mother chimps caring for their babies in the wild. Although this is a work of fiction, I was deeply moved that in today’s modern world, these horrific crimes against beautiful, endangered animals can and still exist. My favorite passages were about Eve learning to trust Marc. I would have loved to read more about Eve’s inner world and feelings. An engrossing novel that is sure to tug at anyone’s heartstrings.