The Language of Kin

A Novel

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Pub Date 11 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2023

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From the award-winning author of A Matter of Mercy and The Testament of Harold’s Wife, comes a beautifully written exploration of how the language of healing can transcend seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Eve, a chimpanzee orphaned by poachers and used for experiments in a medical lab, can finally lead a new life. When she arrives at the Dayton Zoo, Kate and Marc must overcome professional differences to build a relationship with her. Forced to work together, Kate and Marc find common ground when they discover they both are the sole caregivers for their mothers, one who has been deaf her entire life and the other who recently lost her ability to process words. After a life-threatening crisis occurs, can they find the courage—and the shared language—to reach across these silent divides to heal the ones they love?

From the award-winning author of A Matter of Mercy and The Testament of Harold’s Wife, comes a beautifully written exploration of how the language of healing can transcend seemingly insurmountable...

Advance Praise

"Brilliant, fascinating and deeply moving ... gracefully written, this is a book that astonishes, even as it shows the way to cross divides ... Full of science, love and drama, I couldn't love this book more if I tried." -Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You

"An emotional read full of page-turning highs and cathartic sorrows. I fell in love with this complicated, compelling cast, both human and otherwise." -Katrina Kittle, author of Morning In This Broken World

"A timeless and immersive story exploring the complexities of human engagement and the lengths we will go for those we love." -Donna Everhart, USA Today bestselling author of The Education of Dixie Dupree

"Filled with empathy for all and a plot that will keep you flipping pages as fast as you can." -Audrey Schulman, author of the Philip K. Dick award-winning Theory of Bastards

"Brilliant, fascinating and deeply moving ... gracefully written, this is a book that astonishes, even as it shows the way to cross divides ... Full of science, love and drama, I couldn't love this...

Marketing Plan

National publicity campaign

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National publicity campaign

National reviews and author interviews

#Bookstagram campaign

Mailing to influencers TikTok

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781943075775
PRICE $18.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 24 members

Featured Reviews

Powerful one !

This was an intense read, with a very powerful opening scene. And I loved the secondary stories and the representation in the book.

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THE LANGUAGE OF KIN brought me so deep inside the world of the rescued chimp (Eva) portrayed in this novel that, at times, I could barely breathe as I worried about her. Being behind-the-scenes zoo fascinated me endlessly—this is a world I've never seen and now could explore forever. Lynne Hugo portrayed the belief systems and lives of those who work at the zoo in ways I've never considered; her portrayal of the chimp is nothing less than astonishing.

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This story is so powerful! I settled into it and next thing I knew, it was 5AM. I just could not put it down until I finished it.

This is a beautifully written story of the healing power of language across species. The first three pages are hard to read, and some may want to skip those pages. It describes the scene of Eve, the chimpanzee at the center of the story, being ripped from her mother by poachers and later sold to a medical research lab. Eve eventually is sent to the Dayton Zoo in Ohio. Primate keepers Kate and Marc, despite their difference of opinion of what the job should entail, are assigned to integrate Eve into the zoo’s chimp community.

Kate and Marc do find common ground. They each are caregivers for their mothers. Marc’s mother has been deaf her entire life, and after the death of her husband, she has isolated herself. Kate’s mother has aphasia as the result of a stroke. Aphasia has affected her ability to process, use, and/or understand language. This connection challenges them as they continue to clash on how Eve should be handled, especially as they recover from a crisis at the zoo that puts them all in danger.

My favorite parts of the book are when Marc is working alone with Eve, trying to earn her trust, teaching her to communicate with him. I also enjoyed the few scenes written from Eve’s perspective. These portions of the book displayed extreme sensitivity in the use of words to make me feel the emotions I did as I read. The characters, with all their flaws, are likeable, realistic.

This book was well-researched, and I enjoyed learning new things from it. I have always disliked the use of animals for various kinds of research. I did not realize though that apes are used because their DNA matches that of humans so closely.

I received an advance copy of the book. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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This was an intense read with powerful messages about communication in both the human and animal existence. It's also one of the few books that I've read recently that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to. I went into the story completely blind of the plot and was hooked by the first chapter.

Eve was a chimpanzee who was taken by poachers to sell to a research lab for animal experiments. When she's moved to the Dayton Zoo, after years of experiments, she has to be taught how to live with other animals and learn that not all people are cruel and uncaring. At the Zoo, Kate and Mark are her main trainers. Kate has worked in the jungle and worked with animals at the zoo for a long time. She feels that no animal should be kept in captivity and should be left in their own habitat and Mark fees that zoos are the last chance to keep animals from becoming extinct when their world is diminishing from less jungle space available due to modern buildings. Mark is given the lead role in getting Eve ready to join the other animals but then he goes off track and tries to teach Eve how to truly communicate with humans by using sign language. Even though Kate and Mark, see things differently, they have a lot in common. Kate's mother is in a nursing home but has pretty much given up on life. She has aphasia and is unable to communicate. The nursing home wants to move her to assisted living but Kate is sure that her mother still has thoughts but is unable to express them. Mark's mother is deaf and has sequestered herself in her apartment and she has made Mark her main person to communicate with. Even though they greatly differ in their views of animals in zoos, they find common ground when they discover that they are the main caregivers for their mothers and that both mothers have issues with communication with the outside world. Will this common ground lead to a relationship between Kate and Mark or will their divergent views on animals at the zoo, keep them from exploring a relationship with each other?

I really enjoy reading a book that is so well researched that I learn new things. Lynne Hugo has done considerable research on chimpanzees and shared much of it her novel. I had no idea how close the DNA is between humans and chimpanzees - 98% plus the same dna. After I finished the book, I spent time goggling information about chimpanzees and how they'd been used in medical experiments - often in a very cruel manner.

This book basically had everything that I look for in a five star plus read - a fantastic plot with likeable main characters who are very well written plus the opportunity to learn something new. Trust me, this is not a book that you want to miss!!

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This book was sad as it exposed the cruelty of people towards apes and their use in various experiments. The close match of their DNA to humans makes it seem sensible to use apes in medical experiments but the book tells of horrific things that are done to the apes while in cages, without sunlight or companions all in the name of science. The author also gets the reader thinking about zoos in a new light. Kate and Marc are two of the zoo employees that are charged with taking care of the primates but have different views of what that entails. Never very close, they become attracted to each other when a new chimp, from a science mill, is placed with the zoo. Their relationship becomes strained due to family and their differing viewpoints. This book is deep, not for the feint of heart. Well written. Highly recommended. This is a five star read— I find myself still thinking about the book and wondering about the ending. I appreciate the digital ARC that I received from Amphorae Books and NetGalley.

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This novel written by Hugo is brilliant. Kate and Marc have many things in common from working at a Zoo in Ohio, to both being caregivers to their mothers. Marc’s mother being deaf and living at home with Marc. Kate’s mother unable to speak and unsure if she could hear while living in an assisted living facility. Marc’s mother Ria uses sign language to start communicating with Dorothy who is Kates mother. Just as Marc has taught Eve the chimp at the zoo to communicate with him and gain her trust. Eve was brought to the zoo from a lab where she was being used for research after she was captured and her mother killed by poachers several years prior.

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The Language of Kin grabbed my attention from the get go. The author skillfully brought us into the jungle and made us feel the shocking trauma experienced by chimps stripped from their families and stolen for experimentation purposes — something we conveniently tend to ignore in the name of advances in science. The author makes us understand the pain, confusion and exhaustion these chimps experience and how at the end of their usefulness, they wind up in zoos. How alike the chimps are DNA-wise to humans! We see their adaption to life within the confines of traditional zoos. Theme two….the author deals with the complexity of communication between the humans who care for the chimps, the motives for their work and the parents who shaped the fashion in which they communicate. I loved this book and its interwoven themes. Lynne Hugo is a masterful story teller and a superb writer!

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