Lucy by Laurence Gonzales

September 26, 2010

Plot summary (with spoilers): Lucy by Laurence Gonzales tells the story of a seemingly normal 14-year-old “girl” named Lucy. Born and raised in the Congolese jungle, she escapes first to London and then to America with anthropologist Jenny Lowe after both her parents are killed in the Congolese civil war. Jenny has brought David’s (Lucy’s father’s) journals out of the jungle with her because she’s interested in what her fellow anthropologist had been working on. It’s from these journals that Jenny learns the stunning truth about Lucy: she is a half-bonobo, half-human hybrid!

Jenny can hardly believe it, but after talking to Lucy she learns that this is indeed the case. Jenny doesn’t care and wants to adopt Lucy and raise her as a regular human child. Jenny sends Lucy to school while putting the adoption paperwork in motion and…. Well, that’s as far as I got before chucking this book aside.


  • This premise was extremely intriguing and managed to hook me as soon as I read the jacket blurb on the book. I thought this had the potential to be an amazing story, but if there are any good parts in the novel I missed them because they’re buried too far in.


  • Wow, where do I begin with this? So you mean to tell me that a being that is fully one-half bonobo would look so much like a human that nobody would even do a double-take? WTF??? I must have missed an important detail, because the only thing Jenny noticed as being a bit out of the ordinary was Lucy’s eyes — and even then Jenny couldn’t quite put her finger on what was wrong. I don’t get it. How could a hybrid like this look nothing like the primate part?? And if she looked totally like a human, then what was that whole thing about her being “evidence” that Big Foot existed? Weird.
  • Lucy was such an annoying character that I simply couldn’t get into her story. She was supposedly fairly well educated and had read a lot, but she didn’t have sense enough not to start barking at the friggin’ escalator in a crowded mall? Or making screeching noises in unison with the windshield wipers on a bus? I mean, come on!
  • The author completely overdid the fish-out-of-water routine, especially when showing Lucy interacting with her classmates. Like, OMG, she doesn’t know what YouTube is and has never sent a text message to anyone[/Valley Girl voice]! A couple scenes like that would have been appropriate and expected — and perhaps even funny. But Gonzales went to that well again and again and again. It felt like the book was just stuck in the same place without any plot advancement at all because of the repetitive nature of so many of those scenes.


Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed by the fact that I couldn’t finish Lucy by Laurence Gonzales. I had read so many good reviews and was looking forward to the ethical debates about what to do with Lucy once her true origin was discovered. But unfortunately, Gonzales just isn’t a good storyteller. I made it about 1/3 of the way through, but still felt as though nothing had happened yet. I give this book 0 stars out of 5.

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