December Online ebook Club Wrap-up – Jeremy and Amy

Jeremy and AmyThis month we read the true story of Jeremy and Amy for our online ebook club. This was a really nice story about the origins of Monkey World in the UK.

The story is told by Jeremy Keeling, co-founder of Monkey World. Jeremy had grown up amongst a variety of zoo animals and developed a passion for them. Jeremy, along with Jim Cronin, established Monkey World in the 80’s as a sanctuary for a variety of Apes. Amy is an Orang-Utan at Monkey World. She was hand-reared by Jeremy when rejected by her mother at birth. When they were in a car accident early in Amy’s life, she was found cradling an unconscious Jeremy’s head in her hands.

The most misleading part of this book is the title. It really isn’t a story about Jeremy and Amy’s relationship but a story about what it takes to set up and run a place like ‘Monkey World’. I am astounded at how much work is involved. It is the kind of work that becomes your life and you would need to be passionate about it to do it successfully. I could tell from the writing that Jeremy Keeling is very passionate about his work. It is also a story about the huge number of apes that have lived at Monkey World. They are an amazing mix with a wide variety of differing personalities. I found the book to be quite informative about the behaviour of certain species.

Keeling writes with refreshing honesty. Rather than painting a romantic image of apes and conservation, he talks about the dangers and accidents that can happen when working with wild animals (even when that wild animal knows you well) and the realistically slim chances of Orang-Utan survival in the wild. He also paints a picture of the former zoo business in the UK. I didn’t realise they were once so prominent and unregulated. Monkey World often acted as a sanctuary for those animals that were once forced to perform.

Another, minor part of the story, that really struck a chord with me was Jeremy’s quite tragic childhood. Without giving anything away, he had a very tough and astoundingly bad start to life and the fact that he pulled himself out of it and accomplished what he did is quite extraordinary. I was a bit disappointed that the book only touched on this and would have liked to have heard more about how he got through the pain of his childhood. In saying that I’m sure it was hard to reveal his personal life to start with so I can understand why he may not have wanted to elaborate. Maybe there is a second book in this

Overall this was a nice summer read and it has inspired me to visit Monkey World when I next return to the UK.

What did you think of the book?

Did you learn something new from it?

Is there a similar book you’d recommend?

Let us know in the comments below.