Hale’s debut novel is narrated by Bruno, who is not your average chimpanzee. He was identified early in life as behaving as human-like as many children and as a result was pulled into a University of Chicago study. What truly sets Bruno apart, though, is his ability to learn how to learn and as a result he gains the ability to speak as a human. In the beginning, only Lydia Littlemore, newly minted primatologist, could understand his attempts. Lydia, far from the troubled home in which she grew up finds herself way too attached to Bruno and he to her and in this love affair they find their downfall.
Bruno’s voice is clear and as he educates himself, his reasoning becomes more sophisticated until it’s difficult to remember at times that he is still biologically a chimpanzee. Bruno does not merely achieve, but rather he exceeds. He doesn’t just read Shakespeare, he wants to act and direct it. The line between what Bruno is and what he wants to be is ever in motion, and each time he believes he has found the difference between man and animal, he steps over the line and must entirely rethink the matter. If the premise grabs you, you’ll find an absorbing and entertaining read containing plenty of food for thought.