Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Bought a Zoo Review

We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee

From the inside flap:

'In the market for a house and the adventure of a lifetime. Benjamin Mee decided to uproot his family and move them to an unlikely new home: a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside, complete with over 200 exotic animals. Mee, who specializes in animal behavior, had a dream to refurbish the zoo and run it as a family business. Naturally, friends and colleagues thought he was crazy.
The grand reopening of the zoo was scheduled for spring, but there was much work to be done and none of it easy for these novice zookeepers. Tigers broke loose, money ran low, the staff grew skeptical, and family tensions reached a boiling point.'
(There's more but I think you get the point.)

I’m a sucker for animal anecdotes. Wild animals, domestic animals, and apparently animals in zoos too. As an animal anecdote lover I liked reading all about the animals, even when he was just talking about their dental care. It was also interesting to find out some of what is required to own and run a zoo. There are also many other things going on besides the zoo and he shares his personal struggles too. As a whole it is an interesting story that is easy to become involved in. I found myself rooting for Mee and his family as they struggled with all of the legal, animal, and money problems along the way. Because it is a first person account we see everything from Benjamin’s perspective, with his emphasis on what is important to tell which made it uniquely Benjamin’s story but almost made me wish someone else was telling it. Some of the pieces that I would have been interested in hearing just weren’t there. I sometimes found myself wondering where his children were along with the rest of his family that gave him so much support. And I wish that I could have seen more of his mother who seemed to have such an important role in the process but not in the book. It is an interesting and, although not always happy, entertaining story that I enjoyed and am glad I read. But in the end it is less about the ‘young family’ from the title than it is about one man, and the distinctly one-sided view point left me feeling as if the story was not really complete.

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