Frustrated by the limitations of cross-race communication in her predominantly white town, a young African-American girl teaches herself to sign. Years later, Laurel uproots her husband and daughters from their downwardly-mobile, over-educated and underpaid life in the South End of Boston for Cortland County, Massachusetts. The Freemans are to take part in an experiment: they've been hired by a private research institute to teach sign language to a chimpanzee. Told primarily from the point of view of Laurel's elder daughter, Charlotte, the novel shifts in time from the early 1990s to the founding of the Institute in the 1930s to the present day. With language both beautiful and accessible, Greenidge examines that time in each person's life when we realize the things we thought were normal may be anything but.
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"Three narrators narrate this complex novel about a black family that was asked to participate in a 1990 experiment to teach sign language to a chimpanzee. The story is told from alternating viewpoints, and the narrators' empathetic, solid performances provide clear distinctions among the perspectives and time periods. Cherise Boothe's portrayal of teenage Charlotte is infused with sass and angst, highlighting the girl's rocky adjustment to living in a research institute with an ape. In a change in timeframe to 1929, Myra Lucretia Taylor highlights a middle-aged woman's fragile pride and disillusionment after she becomes involved with one of the institute's founding researchers. The remaining sections are read by Karole Foreman, whose soothing voice offers a pleasant foil to those of the main characters. This audiobook explores issues of race, sexuality, family, and research ethics. C.B.L. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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