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Book Review of The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan
crytal avatar reviewed on + 155 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2

It appears that I will be adding The One and Only Ivan to an ever growing list in which I am in the minority of not liking a well-loved book.

It's a heartbreaking tale of a gorilla in a mall who is not openly mistreated, but certainly not very well treated. He has a kind heart and only wants what is best for the newest member of his mall menagerie. Though, like many well-intended people (or apes?), Ivan doesn't foresee all of the ramifications of his plan.

Almost immediately, this book resonated as a modern Black Beauty, just using an ape rather than a horse. It is a story that, based on what I thought I'd be reading via the blurb, I was tricked into reading. I wanted a happy, feel-good book and instead wound up with animal cruelty.

I suppose that I should have mentioned at the beginning of this review, that I grew up in the real city where the real Ivan was. I remember going to to see him as a child, watching him play on his tire swing. Unlike in this story, the real Ivan was not sent to a local zoo, he was sent across the country. It broke my heart when he went away. I understand that he shouldn't have been kept in a mall, but the child in me didn't understand why we would never be able to see him again. And unlike in this story, the real Ivan never really acclimated to his life in the zoo. In my heart I believe that he died sad and lonely. I know this is not how Ms Applegate wrote her story, but it does influence my opinion of it, and thus, this review.