On a research trip to West Africa, Dr. Hugo Archibald of the Boston Museum of Natural History encounters an orphaned baby chimpanzee. Archibald decides to bring the ape, whom he names Jennie, back to Boston and raise her alongside his own two young children as a kind of scientific experiment.
Jennie captures the hearts of everyone she encounters. She believes herself to be a human being. She does almost everything a human child can, from riding a tricycle to fighting over the television with her siblings to communicating in American Sign Language.
Told from shifting points of view of those closest to Jennie, this heartwarming and bittersweet novel forces us to take a closer look at the species that shares 98 percent of our DNA and ask ourselves the question: What does it really mean to be human?
Douglas Preston's Jennie, based on the real story of the chimpanzee who inspired Curious George, is the celebrated novel that was made into the award-winning Disney television film The Jennie Project. It was translated into many languages and became a worldwide bestseller.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
The protagonist of this good-humored though long-winded novel is a chimpanzee. Jennie lives for almost a decade during the 1970s and enjoys the period's activities, e.g., peace marches and dropping LSD. Written in the form of diary entries and interviews, the narrative draws on research with actual primates (Preston is the author of Dinosaurs in the Attic and other nonfiction works on scientific subjects) and advances the theory that chimps are nearly human. Naturalist Dr. Hugo Archibald delivers baby Jennie from her dying mother in the Cameroons and brings her home to his American family. His young son Sandy bonds with Jennie, but daughter Sarah, only eight months old when Jennie arrives, grows to fiercely resent the chimp. A minister who sees Jennie as a ``child of God'' teaches her about Jesus. After being trained in ASL (American Sign Language), the apt chimp learns to converse, wheedle, taunt, lie and swear. Her antics resemble those of a gleeful, willful human brat, given to tantrums that include tearing up furniture. She hoards and steals. She shops at Bloomingdale's. She meets celebrities. She gets arrested. Sexual maturity is Jennie's downfall. Sent to a wildlife camp, she identifies her fellow chimp as a ``black bug,'' feels betrayed and violently grieves for her lost freedom. The tale gives Preston a chance to discourse on evolution and socialization, aggression, love, suffering and death, successfully integrating these topics into his whimsical narrative. While some readers may delight in Jennie's exploits, others may find the narrative cartoonish and one-dimensional, a joke that keeps repeating itself in different keys. 50,000 first printing; film rights to Disney; audio by Brilliance; author appearances.