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.