I have the glorious honor of introducing one of my mentor’s new books to our school on Monday. And what a book it was! But first, backstory….Eliot Shrefer was the second reader for my thesis, and the teacher who really taught me to story-board and get to the nitty-gritty about my novel. It’s safe to say I’m a little indebted to him, so I was very excited to get a copy of his newest book and be asked to write an introduction for his interview. He also fits beautifully into CBR bingo, as his birthday is in November!
Onto the story: Orphaned is the last book in Schrefer’s Ape Quartet, and the most unique of the series. Told from the point-of-view of a gorilla named Snub, we follow Snub and her family unit through the Paleolithic period as volcanoes erupt, the earth shifts, and humans begin to dot the animal landscape. The story is told completely in poetry, which was unexpected, but worked incredibly well to tell a tale from an animal point-of-view. Schrefer’s writing is warm and inviting, even in the dark terror of lava falls, human hunts, and starvation. He’s a careful selector of language, containing the story through intricately wrought lines that are as complex as they are simple. He incorporates real gorilla sounds and their meaning, adding another layer of power to the poignant rhythm. There are also running pictographs of the gorilla family along the top of each chapter, denoting who is present or absent in the gorilla’s family unit as Snub gets separated and reunited throughout the story. It was a clever and interesting choice to include, and helps solidify the importance of the ‘home’ and ‘family’ themes in Snub’s life. The poetry is easy to read and packed with poignancy, the true feelings of Snub and her family made stronger because we don’t have to wade through descriptive prose in order to feel the animal undertones of instinct and pure reaction. It’s simply there, in short, perfectly worded lines.
I’ve honestly never encountered a book quite like this, and it was an enjoyable and fabulous way to read both poetry and prose in a single place. I highly recommend this book to anyone who avoids poetry (as I do), and is looking for a way in.
5 stars for originality and beautiful poetry.
Bingo Square: Birthday