BOOKS: Hurt Go Happy
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2006:
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby
Tom Doherty Associates (175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010), 2006.
267 pages, hardcover. $17.95
“I called all over trying to find a place, but there are
hundreds of chimps in need of a place to go, and they were especially
uninterested in a chimp who can’t be housed with other chimps.”
This is the age-old problem of keeping baby “wild” animals as
pets: what to do when they grow older and stronger, and can no
longer live with humans in their homes.
Hurt Go Happy is the story of such a chimp. Although
fiction, the novel is based on the true story of an ill-fated chimp
named Lucy, who was raised as a human child in Oklahoma, as part of
a language experiment. Rehabilitated and returned to the wild in
1977, as one of Gambia-based sanctuarian Janis Carter’s early
projects, Lucy was killed by poachers in 1987.
Hurt Go Happy begins with the tragic childhood of a young girl named
Joey. Beaten by her father, she suffers a loss of hearing. Instead
of helping her to overcome her disability, her mother, wishing her
to seem normal, refuses to allow her to learn sign language. Living
a marginalized life, Joey finds salvation in a chance meeting with
an elderly doctor, Charles Mansell, who is caring for a baby
chimpanzee, whom he rescued from the bushmeat trade in Africa.
Joey falls in love with the baby chimp, who is lonely like her.
Mansell encourages Joey to use sign language to communicate with the
chimp. This brings conflict between Joey and her mother.
Joey’s love for the little chimp will eventually take her on
a journey which is both sad and uplifting, with many lessons for
younger readers about what really happens to too many cute and cuddly
baby animals who fall into human hands, and the importance of
personally acting to alleviate the suffering of animals.