by: Ben Dolnick
Published by: Vintage Books
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Reviewed by Diane A. Brown
Destiny, do we have control or is it just by accident? High school graduation is supposed to open the road to new beginnings. That's what Henry Elinsky thought, but his first year at college was a disaster. Now, back at his old high school and helping dad with music class, it's definitely the pits. Life just doesn't appear fair, and understanding from others seems impossible! Family dynamics and hidden problems leave Henry wondering which way is up. Breaking into the adult world seems to present some real challenges, but this is just the beginning.
New York, New York, Glimmer and glitz, a place where starting over can take unexpected turns. Henry is invited to spend the summer with his brother David in the Big Apple and can't wait for the adventure to begin. Dad thinks it is great, while mom is afraid he's avoiding college. Uncle Walter is just his emotional self. Once Henry's settled in, next stop Central Park Zoo, and a job interview.
Nervous but determined, Henry nabs a job at the children's zoo. There is nothing cool about shoveling animal dung and washing out cages but his responsibilities become enjoyable in a mindless sort of way. Sometimes Henry finds more comfort in talking to a hairy "friend," than with unpredictable, closed-minded, emotionally stressed humans! The Zoo becomes a refuge from the disappointments and trials that plague Henry's struggle to reach his dreams.
Is love in the air? When Henry meets Margaret, matters of the heart take unpredictable turns and alter his thoughts for the future. Close encounters or just accidental meetings? It's a summer romance, or is it?
Each day, Henry faces situations testing his ability to adjust, grow and learn from his choices. Accidents, family emergencies, and poor decisions may leave Henry up the creek without a paddle.
Zoology is a small glimpse into the day-to-day events, thoughts, and dreams of a young man struggling to find meaning and purpose in his upside down life.
However, as a reader, I thought the plotting could have been handled better and the content was inconsistent, jumping from past to present and vice versa. And the unexpected F word just seemed tossed in.
Armchair Interviews says: A boy's coming-of-age story.
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