Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
My name is Sarah. I am fourteen years old and an avid reader; it is one of my favorite things to do. Inspired by authors’ creations of magnificent places and surprising havens built by simple letters, I aspire to be an author and, meanwhile, nurture the love to write.
Sophie Biyoya-Ciardulli knows she’s got it luckier than most.
With her Italian-American father and Congolese mother, she attends high school in Florida and spends the summers at her mother’s bonobo sanctuary in Congo. She has money and opportunity and an escape—because Congo is a dangerous place, even for those who are trying to do good.
But the summer she turns sixteen, she rescues a sick and orphaned bonobo from a trafficker and nurses it back to health, christening it Otto. For the first time, Sophie understands why her mother has stayed in Congo, caring for the bonobos, instead of coming to America; why she always seems to put them before her family: she now knows what it’s like to feel responsible for another creature, and she and Otto are inseparable.
But just before she must leave, war breaks out in Congo. Foregoing the UN transport getting the American visitors out, she chooses to stay with the bonobos, risking her life to protect Otto in a society that doesn’t seem to care about humans, much less the empathetic apes that share 99.8% of their DNA.
Told with harrowing detail and care, Eliot Schefer weaves a story about the relationship between a girl and an ape—but really, it’s a story about much more than that. It’s the story of a country, of a species, of a war and a hope and a mission. And it all began with Otto.