Book Review: A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam

A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdamA Beautiful Truth: What it is about

The publisher says: “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.

A Beautiful Truth: What I thought

This review book was on my shelves for some time. While I did want to read it, it never seemed the right moment whenever I looked for a new book to read. When I finally did read it, of course it was the same as with all the other books that suffer the same fate: I enjoyed it a lot. But there was at the same time something off-putting about the story.

Reading about chimpanzees in captivity is not pleasant. First there is Looee, who lives with his ‘parents’, a human couple who cannot have children of their own and have adopted the chimpanzee when he was still young. Then there is a colony of chimpanzees living in Florida and the reader follows their lives through their experience, and sometimes briefly through the eyes of a human caretaker.

The story of Looee at the house of Walt and Judy was fun, but if you know a little bit about wild animals, you know that keeping them as pets doesn’t usually end well. Looee wasn’t seen as a pet, but as a son, but still I feared for his future. And rightly so. So the story turned pretty ugly for a while.

At the same time, reading about the colony sometimes felt  like reading a research report. Not one I was particularly interested in. I personally know enough about chimpanzees, having studied a resident colony at my university during my psychology studies. Against my will, as I found it cruel to keep these animals in the basement of the psychology building.

On the other hand, the story was really well written and set out very well, too. I cannot fault it from that point of view.  It was the story that didn’t and did appeal to me. It was a good read and a sad read, and now and then a little boring.

Still, I’m glad I finally picked it up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 336

First published: 2013

I got this: from Soho Press for review

Genre: contemporary fiction

Extra: Another novel about a chimpanzee living with a family is Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel.


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

8 Responses to Book Review: A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam

  1. klweston1984 says:

    I’d love to read this as it sounds like a truly interesting concept for a piece of fiction, but fear that, like you, I may find it a bit too sad in places. Hmmm, to read or not to read…

  2. There was a tragic story a few years ago in the US about a woman who was disfigured by a chimpanzee her friend thought of as a family member. It was so sad for everyone involved. I wonder if this story was based on that real one. Thanks for this review of an unusual title.

  3. Nish says:

    Oh, I hate such stories about not thought through adoptions. I”ll probably skip this one.

  4. I started this title but unfortunately due to some of the points you raised I did not finish it… ust the wrong book for me I think.

  5. Leslie says:

    I passed on a review copy of this one for pretty much the same reasons you cited as negatives. I guess I made the right choice.

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