Review Blog

Jun 13 2013

The girl with no name: The incredible true story of a child raised by monkeys by Marina Chapman (with Vanessa Chapman & Lynne Barrett-Lee)

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Pier 9, 2013. ISBN 9781743362259.
(Age 15+) Highly recommended. Marina Chapman has certainly had an unusual upbringing. At the tender age of 4 (or thereabouts) she was snatched from her village home and dumped deep in the jungle where she was befriended by monkeys. Over the next 5 or 6 years in their company, Marina learned how to forage for food and survive against predators. She paints a colourful portrait of the sights, sounds and smells of the jungle and how she grew to live according to its rhythms. However, it is clear that life was not necessarily idyllic; she had companionship but the monkeys were never her real 'family'.
So when she first sees a human woman, Marina is entranced. Unfortunately, when she allows herself to be taken by a female hunter, the poor child in her innocence has chosen badly and she learns all too soon that humans are not necessarily as kind and caring as her monkey family.
Whether it is working as a servant in a brothel, or surviving on the streets of a nearby city, or later when she is enslaved by a gangster family, it seems that Marina is often mistreated by those in whom she puts her trust. What emerges from the pages of this book is a clear and compelling story of resilience and fortitude. Life often seems to deal Marina a bad hand but she shows remarkable determination to survive against the odds.
Lynne Barrett-Lee has done a wonderful job of taking Marina's tales to her daughter and weaving them into a coherent and compelling story. She enables us to see how events unfolded through the eyes of an often bewildered young girl, a girl who may not have had the language to actually explain for herself what she was living through. She allows Marina's strengths to shine through.
This is a story that will not be easily forgotten. Indeed, most readers will be eagerly awaiting a sequel, to learn how this brave young girl became a wife and mother.
Deborah Marshall

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