Review: Gorilla Dawn

cover-gorilla dawnTitle: Gorilla Dawn
Author: Gill Lewis
Series: – –
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Length: Novel
Available: Now


The thrilling, heartbreaking, and inspirational new story from award-winning storyteller Gill Lewis.

Deep in the heart of the African jungle, a baby gorilla is captured by a group of rebel soldiers. Imara and Bobo are two children also imprisoned in the rebels’ camp. When they learn that the gorilla is destined to be sold into captivity, they swear to return it to the wild before it’s too late. But the consequences of getting caught are too terrible to think about. Will the bond between the gorilla and the children give them the courage they need to escape?

Source: ARC from Oxford Children’s Books via Amazon Vine

Once again Gill Lewis has written an amazing story that somehow combines wild animals, friendship and conservation with so, so much more. This time we’re in the Congo, home of weather-making rainforests and gorillas, as well as rebel gangs, child soldiers and illegal mines for valuable minerals.

Imara is at the heart of the action. A stolen child with a vicious scar across her face, she is the Black Mamba’s Spirit Child, able to protect the rebel leader and his men (and boys) with the black magic given to her by the devil inside her. Her life in the forest is lonely and dangerous and she doesn’t dare get close to anyone, because no one can be trusted. It’s a cut-throat world of murder and theft and cruel acts of bullying where only the strong survive.

Bobo’s life couldn’t be more different. He lives outside the forest and his father is a ranger, whose job it is to protect the gorillas. He’s grown up respecting and revering them and hopes one day to follow in his father’s footsteps. But when trouble comes to the local gorilla group, Bobo finds his own way into the jungle and meets Imara – and the gorilla baby that they must fight together to save, from starvation, sickness and the woman who wants to take it away from the forest forever.

This isn’t a nice book. Imara isn’t a particularly nice girl. She’s been made hard by the life she lives and knows better than to make friends even when she’d like to. Yet she’s also strong and brave and loves the gorilla, Kitwana. There is good in her, but it’s been crushed and stifled for a very long time. Bobo starts out soft and normal, far from the realities of conflict and war, but he swiftly changes. I liked how together they found a way to survive, to cope and to change enough to come to terms with their life in the jungle. And it is a difficult life, which this book doesn’t bother to hide. There is poverty and greed and cruelty, bullying, hunger and death, but there’s also friendship and hope and wonderful gorillas.

It’s an emotional ride, packed with action and nasty people, but woven in with all of that are the gorillas themselves, how they live, how they interact and why they’re worth saving. It’s a conversation story that quietly inspires rather than lectures, one with compelling characters finding small ways to do good when all hope seems to be gone. It is deep and dark at times, but overall this is a wonderful book that will make any reader think and perhaps inspire some into looking at the world in a different way, while asking themselves:

How am I going to use this day, to make tomorrow a better world?

Gorilla Dawn is Out Now!
Visit Gill Lewis for more details.


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