Parents' Guide to

Hurt Go Happy

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Award-winner faces tough topic of animal testing.

Hurt Go Happy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+

Had potential, but poorly done animal rights plot

The characters of Joey and her family and the way they grow in this book felt very real. However, I felt that Sukari (the chimpanzee) and her plotline was not very believable. It read like a poorly thought out rip off of Kenneth Oppel's Half Brother, with a lot more fridge logic issues. In real life, language trained chimps don't belong to random old guys in the woods, but instead are raised by graduate students working with a university. They certainly don't get willed to teenagers, especially disabled teenagers. There isn't a huge excess of chimps, either, and zoos are actually trying pretty hard to breed them. And most language trained chimps have never been sent to a medical research laboratory, so why does every book have to go there? The overall impression is that Sukari is just a tool to deliver the author's ham-fisted animal rights message. I think the story could have been much better if a) Charlie was part of a research team rather than some weirdo rich loner, b) Sukari didn't end up willed to Joey or in a medical research laboratory. Instead, the story could have focused more on Joey's adjustment to attending a signing Deaf school as an oral Deaf kid, which would have been a much more interesting and original storyline than some ridiculous 'teenager travels cross-country to rescue a language trained ape' plotline. Sukari could have been the inspiration for a career in primatology, rather than the vehicle for a poorly done and simplistic animal rights message.
age 9+

AWESOME

*************I REALLY LOVED THIS BOOK IT ACTUALLY MADE MY CHILD CRY. HA HA HA WHEN I ASKED HER SHE SAID BECAUSE TIS BOOK IS REALLY GOOD. I THINK THIS BOOK WOULD BE GOOD FOR CHILDEN MAYBE 10 AND UP REALLY REALLY GOOD AFTER MY DAUGHTER READ IT I DID THE BOOK HAD THE CAME EFFECT ON ME AS IT DID OF MY DAUGHTER*************************

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (7 ):

While the story never comes across as didactic, no one will miss the piercing critique of animal testing, and it's a theme that will resonate strongly with young readers. Equally powerful, though, is the web of issues relating to deaf children and their families, and in Joey young readers will encounter a strongly sympathetic, and courageous heroine. Like many in the deaf community, she recognizes the positive aspects of her situation, and though she is often frustrated and lonely, she is also at times grateful and relieved to embrace her deafness.

There are a lot of important themes here -- deafness, communication, animal rights, parental fallibility, abuse -- and sophomore author Ginny Rorby swirls them together into a powerfully potent brew in which each ingredient enhances the others. Without ever getting graphic or inappropriate, the emotional and at times disturbing result may be too much for more sensitive readers. The rest will find it hard to put down while reading, and harder still to forget afterwards. This is a book that has a lasting impact on the reader, and those in the target age group may want to go further and take action.

Book Details

  • Author: Ginny Rorby
  • Genre: Family Life
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Publication date: August 1, 2006
  • Number of pages: 267
  • Last updated: June 29, 2015

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