Threatened takes us to the Central West coast on the continent of Africa. AIDS orphan Luc (about the age of twelve), is living a meager existence indebted to a brutish moneylender, when he meets an Arab man and his pet monkey, Omar. The man claims to be a professor from the University of Leipzig and on behalf of the National Geographic Society has come to the country of Gabon to study its chimpanzee population. This country is known for its natural resources of oil and lumber and sadly along with the U.S. are the only two countries left in the world that still allow legal use of chimpanzees for research purposes.
The professor decides to hire Luc as his assistant and together with the vervet Omar they venture into the “inside”, the very depths of the Gabonese jungle. Both man and boy manage to rise up to the challenge of the savage landscape until the night that the Professor mysteriously disappears leaving Luc to fend for himself and face the fears he has of the chimpanzee, of the ‘mock men’ as the locals call them.
Author Eliot Schrefer through his melodic prose takes the reader to a place most of us will never see. We hear the sound of the jungle, see and smell the flora and fauna. But it is through Luc that we experience the rhythm of man living along side its closest DNA relation, the chimpanzee.
Although this book is geared towards young adults and is published by Scholastic Press the message that Mr. Schrefer writes is for all mankind. In the Professors words to Luc he says, “Humans will break your heart…The same selfishness that makes so many of us hurt the ones we love makes our species hurt creatures it admires. To hunt and destroy chimpanzees, like they would never do to us.”
Nothing is more noble than to lend a voice to those that have none, bravo Eliot Schrefer. Read the book, prepare to be moved and seek out further work by this gifted author.
Reviewed by Kiara Funcillo