What It’s About: “Endangered” by Eliot Schrafer is about a 14-year-old girl who was born and raised for part of her life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several years before the story begins, she moves to Florida with her father, but her mother remains in the Congo in order to run a sanctuary for bonobos (bonobos are like chimpanzees, but nicer). Sophie returns to the Congo for the summer to visit her mother. On her first day back she comes across a peddler trying to sell an infant bonobo who has obviously been abused. Sophie immediately knows she has to help the poor creature and she buys him from the peddler. Her mother is angry and forces Sophie to care for the small creature until she goes back to Florida. She names him Otto for his eight fingers.
A few days before she is supposed to go back to Florida, her mother leaves the sanctuary to release some older bonobos into the wild. She is gone no more than a day when tragedy strikes the country and the President is assassinated. Groups of soldiers swarm the countryside. After the sanctuary is attacked, Sophie must figure out how she can reach her mother, all the while caring for Otto and avoiding the soldiers.
What I Liked About It: Any story about animals appeals to me and the little ape in this book is downright adorable. I appreciated the interactions the author created between Sophie and the bonobos. Schrefer also has a way of describing the conflict in the Congo in a way that an outsider can understand.
Similar Titles: Eliot Schrefer’s newest book “Rescued,” similarly chronicles the efforts of a teen to save a young orangutan. For more stories about teens stuck in the wild, check out the classics “Julie of the Wolves” and “Hatchet.”