Some people think humans evolved from apes…gorillas. Glee Granger thinks gorillas are almost human and can be taught to think and talk. Rob (Glee’s brother) thinks gorillas are animals, but he talks with Sema, Glee’s gorilla. Brad Fielding (director of Gorilla exhibit at zoo) thinks gorillas are fascinating…but animals from which humans evolved. Irene (Glee and Rob’s grandmother) thinks gorillas are animals uniquely created by God. Sema knows she’s a gorilla, and wants to be a mother gorilla.
Glee Granger rescued Sema from death when she was only a few hours old. She took Sema home and raised her as if she were a human baby. In fact, she has spent the last 8 years of her life totally dedicated to studying and teaching Sema. She talks in sign language, understands the spoken word, plays with dolls, has lessons on the computer. She plays on children’s playground equipment instead of climbing in trees. She’s even potty trained.
Glee was almost ready to begin her doctoral dissertation based on Sema’s linguistic abilities…sign language, etc. Technically, Sema still belonged to the zoo. Now…they want her back. The new Zoo Director plans to use her unique talents as a money-maker for the zoo. Glee fights with every legal loophole she can find until there is nothing else she can do. She strikes a bargain with the zoo that makes her a zoo employee and allows her to continue her studies…but at the zoo.
The process of successfully habituating Sema into an existing gorilla group (family) is an interesting story. Sema learns to be a gorilla. Glee also has some learning to do. She learns that she also…quite naturally…as God intended for humans…needs to be a part of a human group (family)…thus an interesting relationship with Brad Fielding, the director of the gorilla exhibit. (I know…my sentence structure is terrible.)
There is an interesting discussion with Glee’s Grandmother regarding her take on how animals figure into God’s creation of the world. She thinks that people and animals used to be able to communicate verbally…before the fall. The religious reference in the book is small, but I think this is interesting. I never thought much about the animals being “redeemed.” A quote from the book:
Fielding shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I’ve always had a hard time
with that. People say God is good and perfect–how, then, could he
“Evil is not a tangible creation.” Nana’s gentle smile assured me
that she enjoyed this gentle sparring. “It is a consequence; it is
the negation of good. Our Creator endowed us with a great gift–the
freedom to obey God, who is goodness–or to reject God, which is
sin.” Fielding nodded, thought working in his eyes. “And sin
“Yes.” Nana focused on Fielding, an almost imperceptible note of
pleading in her face. “Free will is a good thing, but it can result
in bad decisions and dire consequences. For thousands of years men
have paid dearly for their freedom of choice. Because they are
closely linked to us, the animals have paid dearly as well. One day,
soon I hope, God is going to redeem the earth. Then the lion will
lie down with the lamb, and the elephants and mountain gorillas will
care for their young without fear of poachers. All those who love
the Lord will worship him in heaven and on a new, redeemed earth.
The Bible says every creature in heaven and on earth and under the
earth and in the sea will sing, “Blessing and honor and glory and
power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb
forever and ever.'”
Unspoken is a quite fascinating, really. I learned a lot about gorillas. I didn’t like the way the book ended…but it’s mostly is a great book. I highly recommend it.