Saturday, October 26

Book Review: A Beautiful Truth

Title: A Beautiful Truth

Author: Colin McAdam

Pages: 289

Summary: A powerful and haunting meditation on human nature told from the dual perspectives of a Vermont family that has adopted a chimp as a surrogate son, and a group of chimpanzees in a Florida research institute.

Looee, a chimp raised by a well-meaning and compassionate human couple who cannot conceive a baby of their own, is forever set apart. He’s not human, but with his peculiar upbringing he is no longer like other chimps. One tragic night Looee’s two natures collide and their unique family is forever changed.

At the Girdish Institute in Florida, a group of chimpanzees has been studied for decades. The work at Girdish has proven that chimps have memories and solve problems, that they can learn language and need friends, and that they build complex cultures. They are political, altruistic, get angry, and forgive. When Looee is moved to the Institute, he is forced to try to find a place in their world.

My Rating: 4.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started off fairly good for me, it had an interesting premise, and while the writing was different that what I normally read and to what I generally, I thought it was very fitting for the atmosphere of the book. Unfortunately my feelings for this book quickly turned and I found I lost all interest in it.

While I can appreciate what the author was trying to show the readers, I just didn't connect to it. I began to become frustrated with the writing style, as I felt like too much of the story was being sacrificed, and I couldn't stand the characters. I felt that Looee's parents (owners?) where some of the most selfish, ignorant and stupid people I've meet in a book. I really hated the fact they had him as a "pet", to replace the fact they couldn't have a child. I guess the book invoked strong emotions in me, and I think that was the author's intention, but I also think that because I became so frustrated with the first half of the book, by the time I got into the second half. I'd lost interest in it. I think that because of that, the effect of what happens in the second half of the book just didn't hit me like it probably should have.

The writing was unique to what I normally read, and while at the beginning and in certain parts of the book I think it was a great idea, I think that it took away from the story at the same time. I always felt that I wasn't getting the whole story, that something was missing. It was a neat idea, but it only sort of worked for me.

It was a book I was unsure of to begin with, and while enjoyed a few aspects of it, it wasn't my cup of tea.

Would I recommend it to read: I definitely think a lot of other would enjoy this book a lot. I tried this book out on a whim, because other bloggers enjoyed it, but knowing it wasn't entirely a book I'd normally read. So, it's also worth trying, sometimes books surprise you, sometimes, like for me, your initially gut feeling is right.

What to read next: I'd read the books off of this year's Governor General and Writer's Trust lists, as this book is up for both awards, see what the competition is like.

Challenges: 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge


  1. I think this would make an interesting choice for bookclubs/discussions; there are so many themes to unravel, which do, as you've said, provoke strong emotional reactions. It's one of my favourites for this reading year, and I rather hope it scoops one of the literary prizes, so it finds new readers.

    1. Oh, it's definitely a perfect choice for bookclubs/discussions. There's a lot to take from the book, a lot to debate with, I could even see those discussions becoming heated. And for some it will also just be a good book to read. It will be interesting to see how it fairs for the awards, despite not liking the book, I'm surprised this one didn't at least make the Giller longlist.