An African-American family is hired by a private research institute to 'adopt' a chimpanzee and teach the animal sign language. A coming-of-age story that is also an exploration of family, race, and history.
Ms. Greenidge has charted an ambitious course for a book that begins so mock-innocently. And she lets the suspicion and outrage mount as the Freemans’ true situation unfolds. This author is also a historian, and she makes the 1929' on Toneybee plaque tell another, equally gripping story that strongly parallels the Freemans’ 1990 experience. A question that hovers over this book is whether the Freemans will learn from past horrors or become so dysfunctional that they merely relive them.
Given such potentially heavy-handed material, it’s to Greenidge’s great credit that she nonetheless manages to craft a full and sensitive portrait of an all-American family ... Greenridge has spun a touching and soulful story of race and inheritance and facing up to difference.
...a lot to pack into a novel, but Greenidge succeeds in large part because her voices are so dead-on. Whether it is Charlotte, swooning and conflicted over Adria or her sister, or Nymphadora trying to be clear-eyed about Gardner, these narratives are convincing and utterly engaging. Even little sister Callie’s chapters follow their own crazy logic, all of which lead up to a perhaps inevitable present in which so much is still left unsaid.