by Eliot Schrefer
When Sophie traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to spend the summer with her mother at her bonobo sanctuary, she was expecting a normal, somewhat boring, summer at her former home. Congo had other ideas. On her way from the airport, Sophie rescues a young bonobo from a trader in the street. Although her mother is upset, she accepts little Otto into the sanctuary under Sophie's charge. Much to Sophie's surprise, as she nurses Otto back to health, they form a strong bond. A few days before Sophie is to depart back to the States, with her mother gone on a long journey to release adult bonobos into a wild island preserve, Congo erupts. Revolution has come once again to the country and all is chaos. Unwilling to leave Otto, Sophie hopes that the sanctuary will remain safe but as the fighting draws nearer and smoke rises from a nearby village, she retreats with Otto into the wild of the sanctuary. But the revolution draws near and fighters occupy the sanctuary buildings. Can she and Otto survive while revolution swirls around them? Can they escape the false security of the sanctuary to find her mother, the only person Sophie has to turn to in Congo?
The language is clean in this book - I only recall one curse word used. The story is intense. Sophie and Otto are on the run in an extremely dangerous situation for most of the book. The country is in revolution and there are occasionally scenes of massacre and one scene where Sophie barely escapes without being violated. For this reason, the book is rated PG-13. It is a well-written book and reads like a true story, which it is not. But the characters are believable and the journey is descriptive and tense. I enjoyed it but with the scenes of violence and revolution, it's not for young kids.