A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam – my experience

A Beautiful Truth Synopsis

A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdamA powerful and haunting meditation on human nature told from the dual perspectives of a Vermont family that has adopted a chimp as a surrogate son, and a group of chimpanzees in a Florida research institute.

Looee, a chimp raised by a well-meaning and compassionate human couple who cannot conceive a baby of their own, is forever set apart.  He’s not human, but with his peculiar upbringing he is no longer like other chimps.  One tragic night Looee’s two natures collide and their unique family is forever changed.

At the Girdish Institute in Florida, a group of chimpanzees has been studied for decades.  The work at Girdish has proven that chimps have memories and solve problems, that they can learn language and need friends, and that they build complex cultures. They are political, altruistic, get angry, and forgive. When Looee is moved to the Institute, he is forced to try to find a place in their world.

A Beautiful Truth is an epic and heartfelt story about parenthood, friendship, loneliness, fear and conflict, about the things we hold sacred as humans and how much we have in common with our animal relatives. A novel of great heart and wisdom from a literary master, it exposes the yearnings, cruelty, and resilience of all great apes. (Amazon)


I requested my review copy of The Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam from Soho Press – it sounded very moving and I could not wait to read it. Much to my disappointment however, after reaching the 20% mark (Kindle) I came to the conclusion that this just wasn’t the right book for me – or perhaps more accurately, I was not the right person for this book.

Why did I stop reading?

I’ll admit I just knew something bad was about to happen, and I think I knew what it was and I just didn’t feel like going there…

Up to that point I felt no connection with any of the characters – in fact I found almost all the characters distasteful. I felt the narrative was so clinical and removed at times that it had a menacing feel to it. Even something about the narrative from behind chimps’ eyes  (which I expect from a literary viewpoint would be deemed clever) made me feel very uneasy…

Look to Podo if the food is taken from your mouths. Look to him if you think all food can be yours. He wants Fanta.

He will pound the eyes of detractors.

Show him your ros′e.

And that’s a fairly benign example… it gets much more graphic when the animals mate.

The strange thing is though, I think the intense foreboding and menace I got from this novel (and disliked) may just be what the author intended to convey. I suppose in this sense The Beautiful Truth is moving and could be seen as breaking new ground. While I respect the avante garde, I do not always think it equates to success though.

Although I was not the right reader for The Beautiful Truth, I do love that so much good is coming from its release. The world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary, Save the Chimps, and Soho Press having launched a promotional campaign with the goal of raising funds and spreading awareness for the Florida sanctuary.

A Beautiful Truth does an amazing job at telling the stories of chimpanzees in captivity today and it also helps people understand why these amazing souls should be loved, respected and protected in their natural habitat.  We hope everyone reads this book and comes to see Chimpanzees as we do.” – Save the Chimps Executive Director Jo Sullivan

Soho Press has pledged a portion of all proceeds from sales of the novel (in electronic and print formats in all sales channels) to Save the Chimps to help cover their operating costs. Read more about this great initiative at Soho Press’ website.


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BOOK DETAILS: A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam ( Booktopia | Amazon | Kobobooks )

Genre: Literature, Drama

Other reviews of A Beautiful Truth: Book’d Out; The Telegraph; LucyBird Books; Curled Up With A Good Book and a Cup of Tea

* Receiving this title free from the Soho Press did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions  above.