The Girl With No Name: The Incredible True Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys by Lynne Barrett-Lee, Marina Chapman


The poignant story of a girl who overcomes unique hardship and deprivation – growing up with a troop of capuchin monkeys – to find ultimate redemption.

In 1954, in a remote mountain village in South America, a little girl was abducted. She was four years old. Marina Chapman was stolen from her housing estate and then abandoned deep in the Colombian jungle. That she survived is a miracle. Two days later, half-drugged, terrified, and starving, she came upon a troop of capuchin monkeys. Acting entirely on instinct, she tried to do what they did: she ate what they ate and copied their actions, and little by little, learned to fend for herself.

So begins the story of her five years among the monkeys, during which time she gradually became feral; she lost the ability to speak, lost all inhibition, lost any real sense of being human, replacing the structure of human society with the social mores of her new simian family. But society was eventually to reclaim her. At age ten she was discovered by a pair of hunters who took her to the lawless Colombian city of Cucuta where, in exchange for a parrot, they sold her to a brothel. When she learned that she was to be groomed for prostitution, she made her plans to escape. But her adventure wasn’t over yet…

In the vein of “Slumdog Millionaire” and “City of God,” this rousing story of a lost child who overcomes the dangers of the wild and the brutality of the streets to finally reclaim her life will astonish readers everywhere.–Description from Goodreads

Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2013 by Pegasus
1605984744 (ISBN13: 9781605984742)
edition language
My thoughts on this Memoir:
You can’t read this book and not feel something for Marina. This essentially begins (after a short preface) with the kidnapping of a young girl who is abandoned and then forced to live on her own in the wilds of Columbia. For years, she goes undiscovered, relying on a group of monkeys to teach her to survive. She therefore learns to live in a rather uncivilised manner and has a very difficult time adapting to life when she is rescues and brought to live among people once more.

I can’t imagine that all of the things in this book are reported exactly as they happened, there are a few things that rather contradict themselves, but honestly, by the end, I really didn’t care. This book is about an amazingly resilient child that grows up to be remarkable woman. There were certain parts that made me angry, other portions that made me hurt for her and wish I could grasp her hand and tell her everything was going to be alright, I did not get through this book without a range of changing emotions.

While I do not want to discredit the ghostwriting abilities of Lynne Barrett-Lee at all, I did have a difficult time reconciling the voice of a woman that was raised by monkeys and didn’t learn to speak until later in life with the at times very formal sounding speech of Ms. Barrett-Lee. This made it difficult for me to fully relate to the memoir.

Overall I thought this was interesting and certainly tells a story that completely true or not, is worth the time to read. If you have not read this book as of yet, may I recommend that you secure a copy for yourself.

This review is based on a digital copy from Open Road Media.

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