Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Review: We Bought a Zoo

I purchased We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee back in 2008 when the book was first published. It was one of those "I walked into the book store and there it was" kind of books. But being pregnant and worried about money, I didn't want to fork over the cash for a new hardback book. So instead, it went on my Christmas wish list. I actually got something I wanted that year - courtesy of my awesome husband. (although I must add the disclaimer that he is a pretty awesome gift giver when it comes to me... he can even pick my clothing size for things that I WANT to wear!)

Anyway, I was getting rotund and pregnancy brain (that is a technical term by the way) made it difficult for me to concentrate while reading. With a surprise baby on the way, it was even tougher to read things that had nothing to do with our impending addition to the family. But, ah, not with this particular book.

I was working at a zoo when I bought and read the book, thinking this would be some sort of "how-to" book on running a zoo. Notice the "A Memoir" in the upper right hand corner of the book's cover. NOT an instruction book. There is some irony there though, considering the author made his living as a writer of DIY (Do It Yourself) articles and the like. That does mean, however, that Benjamin Mee is very good at doing research and teaching himself something so that he may write about it and therefore teach someone else. That makes for very smooth and understandable writing.

It is a memoir, but with a beautiful story and setting, particularly for those with a love of animals. Let's face it, many more people love animals than people who actually get to work with animals first hand. So think of the author as someone who found a dream and literally dragged his entire family and their combined life savings into his adventure as well. There are children involved along with general family drama, but don't forget there are crazy animal stories too! Anyone who has had the wonderful opportunity to work with wild animals will have crazy stories to share, but I deeply enjoyed the sincerity and respect by the author to the facility and animals he purchased even though he lacked the formal knowledge of how to care for them.

If you have any doubts about this book, it is now a movie starring Matt Damon and directed by Cameron Crowe. I will actually have to get a sitter and go see this one in the theaters (a precious commodity these days with a 2-year old I assure you). It is set for release in December 2011. Hm, I see another another Christmas gift in the works?

The full price for the hardback copy was well worth the story and I still have it on my shelf. A friend in the zoo-world asked to borrow it and I simply bought her a copy of her own so I wouldn't have to wonder if I would ever get it back. Having said that it's time for the official review:

RATING: ~~~~1/2 waves (out of 5)

STRONGLY recommended for those who want to reach out of the world of fiction and check out a true story for a change without it being a scientific textbook, research based, or anything to do with politics or the price of oil.

I hope to get my time better organized and back on track with reviews, stories, and other interesting or entertaining tidbits.
Happy Mother's Day! So go hug your mom, send her flowers or something if you can't hug her, and if you have lost this opportunity altogether - do something special for that alternate "mom" in your life. Everybody has one!

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