Guest Author - Elizabeth Stuttard
The Monkey Bible, by Mark Laxer, is an allegory that explores the line between evolution and religion while respecting both views. The author attempts to combine the beliefs of these two views and does a great job of helping us to increase our understanding of both sides so that the line begins to blur and is easier to cross.
The story is about eighteen year old Emmanuel who, while searching for the bible that he has lost, has read a letter written by his father that tells him that he is part human and part primate. This causes a spiritual crisis for him. He begins to wonder whether God can love a “manimal” as much as a human being. He then goes on a journey across several continents to learn the truth. His friend Lucy, a scientist, accompanies him on his journey and rewrites Genesis as “The Monkey Bible”, to replace the bible he has lost. Another character in the book is his friend, Evelyn, who is very religious and we see how her faith continues to give her the support she requires throughout her life.
The fictional story is written in such a way that much scientific information is included. That information is accurate and up to date. I found the book to be very valuable for learning about evolution, genetics, the tree of life and some basic biology. In addition to the biological information, there is an important environmental message that Emmanuel learns on his trek and therefore we learn about it also.
This is a novel that includes the themes of love, mystery, and adventure to keep your interest while reading. The story is often quite humorous too. I especially liked Lucy’s method of dealing with rude cell phone users but I will let you read about that for yourself. I do not think that this novel will be considered great literature but it is fun to read and thought provoking. Some people will find that character development is lacking and that there is too much non-fiction information included to keep the story moving. Some may find that the book seems to be rather preachy near the end about environmentalism. If you are looking for a book that is mostly a great love story, a mystery or an adventure story, then this book is probably not for you.
If you already have the basics down about the themes of evolution, genetics, religion, biology, and/or conservation, and you are looking for a book that teaches you much more about any of those subjects, then you may be more interested in an actual textbook or non-fiction book on any of those topics rather than reading about them in a novel.
However, this book is a great way to get those basics along with an absorbing fictional story which you can enjoy while gaining much knowledge at the same time. I absolutely loved this book and mostly because it made me think! I would recommend this book to most people as an excellent and enlightening story. It is not often that I find a novel to read that I really enjoy reading and that makes me feel like I learned something and has made me think about several important issues too. This novel did that for me. Non-students can enjoy it as will students in many different disciplines such as biology, environmental and conservation courses, religion, and anthropology.
There is a CD included with The Monkey Bible. It is a companion music CD - The Line - by Eric Maring. I enjoyed the music and the lyrics are often as thought provoking as the book.
This is an educational novel that may leave you thinking about the importance of the connection between all living things. The line between us and all other creatures is not as clear cut as we have assumed that it is. It may leave you with questions about religion, science, and your role on this planet.
I received this book free of charge from the BellaOnline management to read and review. The review is my honest opinion about the book.
The Monkey Bible , by Mark Laxer; Published by Outer Rim Press (2010) Burlington, Vermont; 304 pages; ISBN: 978 – 0963810809
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this book, you may purchase one from Amazon here:
The Monkey Bible: A Modern Allegory; includes The Line, a Companion Music CD by Eric Maring