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We Love You, Charlie Freeman (2016)

by Kaitlyn Greenidge

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2652873,176 (3.53)21
The Freeman family--Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie--have been invited to the Toneybee Institute in rural Massachusetts to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family. Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute's history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I wanted to like this book because it sounded like such an interesting premise but the multiple points of view (two 1st person narrators and 3rd person recounts of myriad other characters) ruined any sense of cohesion this tale might have had. At the end, I was left feeling like I had missed something because the resolution felt disjointed and abrupt, which is a shame as I found the book very readable.

Many thanks to Thomas Allen & Son for providing me with a free review copy. ( )
  fionaanne | Dec 6, 2019 |
I picked up this ARC at ALA Midwinter because the author was there and the back blurb looked interesting enough for me to actually read it -- unusual for me with an adult book by a new author! I am so glad I did. Greenidge's prose is clear and descriptive, and while I can't exactly say I "enjoyed" spending time with the Freemans and Nymphadora -- it's not much of a spoiler to say their stories are painful -- I can say that the questions the book asked encouraged me to think about race and history in new ways. ( )
  SamMusher | Sep 7, 2019 |
The title, publisher descriptions and cover blurb sounded so enticing, and the $2 hardcover price at a library book sale clinched the deal. Unfortunately, I had to abandon this book nearly half way through. No complaints about the writing (I loved the first few pages especially) but I just couldn't get engaged with any of the characters - they had a 'sad sack' aura that always puts me off. Take this opinion with a grain of salt though - I couldn't finish the near-universally loved Confederacy of Dunces for the same reason. Also, reading about Charlie's unhappiness was too depressing to handle. Lastly, for reasons I can't explain, I smelled imaginary mothballs whenever I read this book. Maybe my brain had to recruit other organs to convince me to stop reading.
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Interesting book - not to compare it to the other chimp-as-part-of-the-family book "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler - but I felt that this book struck more of an emotional chord than that. Bringing in race identity as well as highlighting the different kinds of communication we can use (verbal, non-verbal, tactile) made this a complex and satisfying read, spanning from the 1920s to the 1990s. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
This is the debut novel by Kaitlyn Greenidge that reads like a debut novel, which is to say that it's uneven, with parts that fit together uneasily, but also with sections that show the author she will become.

Charlotte Freeman moves with her family from their crowded home in Dorchester, Massachusetts to a spacious apartment in the Toneybee Institute, where they are to take part in a research project that has them living with Charlie, a young chimpanzee, as a member of their family. Her mother and younger sister are the most enthusiastic about the project, while Charlotte is more focused on starting at a new high school.

What this book does well is to create a rising sense of dread about the events as they unfold, as well as about what happened at the Institute decades ago. The point of view changes depending on the chapter, but stays primarily with Charlotte, who is a critical observer of what is going on. Greenidge gives a weaker ending to both storylines than is hinted at earlier, and she fails to develop the motivations for conflict as adeptly as a more experienced author might have done. ( )
2 vote RidgewayGirl | Feb 24, 2017 |
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The Freeman family--Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie--have been invited to the Toneybee Institute in rural Massachusetts to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family. Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute's history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.

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