Set in 1990, a Boston family moves to an Institute in the Berkshires to engage in a seemingly bizarre scientific study: raising a chimpanzee as a member of their family. Buttressed by a powerful back story set in 1929, the story grows increasingly complex as different family members voice individual chapters. As the study progresses, unexpected outcomes reveal the consequences of this family’s move and their participation in the study. Excellent, eye-opening read illuminating the particulars of family life.— Karen
A FINALIST FOR THE 2016 CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE AND THE 2017 YOUNG LIONS AWARD
"A terrifically auspicious debut." --Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Smart, timely and powerful . . . A rich examination of America's treatment of race, and the ways we attempt to discuss and confront it today." --The Huffington Post
The Freeman family--Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie--have been invited to the Toneybee Institute to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family. But when Charlotte discovers the truth about the institute's history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past invade the present in devious ways.
The power of this shattering novel resides in Greenidge's undeniable storytelling talents. What appears to be a story of mothers and daughters, of sisterhood put to the test, of adolescent love and grown-up misconduct, and of history's long reach, becomes a provocative and compelling exploration of America's failure to find a language to talk about race.
"A magnificently textured, vital, visceral feat of storytelling . . . by] a sharp, poignant, extraordinary new voice of American literature." --Tea Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife