Review by Alex @ Breakaway Reviewers
Her Name is Missy by Gail Gillespie-Fox and Graham Spence
Review by Alex @ Breakaway Reviewers
A book you won’t be able to put down
A wonderfully enthralling tale about the journey of an animal lover and her quest to protect her beloved baby chimpanzee, whilst bringing home the stark and ugly nature of the wildlife trade. A book you won’t be able to put down from front cover to back.
Gail Gillespie-Fox and her fiancé move from South Africa to Liberia, an unknown country where a new adventure awaits them. We join them in their new lives as they strive to acclimatise to their new surroundings, new people and the very real and visible wildlife trade that runs rampant through their home. Little did they know that due to a series of fortunate (or unfortunate) events Gail and her fiancé would become the full time foster parents of an orphaned baby chimp just as Ebola breaks out and the future of all wildlife (and the vile trade that goes with it) faces a dubious future.
The journey into the heart of life as an ex-pat in Liberia provides the reader with a stark first-person perspective on the wildlife trade that runs unrestrained throughout the world. The book is extremely well written with such detail included that you will become completely immersed in the journey. Included are many interactions between Gail - a clearly compassionate animal lover- and hunters that regularly hunt and sell wild animals to the well-meaning expat community, some with amusing results whilst some with far more serious consequences. As the story progresses the empathy for the well-meaning protagonist and the all so lovable “Missy” develops. This is such an enthralling book that once you get hooked you won’t be able to put it down, and once it’s finished it will make you want to read it all over again.
Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
‘I climbed into bed and just watched Missy sleeping for most of the night. At one stage I woke up and went to get her some milk. It was the last time I would ever do that.”
Missy’s story unfolds in the height of the 2015 Ebola epidemic, in Monrovia, Liberia.
For the most part, her story’s beginning is not unlike that of thousands of other precious wild animals who are savagely slaughtered for bushmeat, or snatched from the breasts of their freshly murdered mothers for resale to the most despicable of all creatures on our planet – human beings.
However, while Missy’s story is one that reveals all aspects of human depravity, ignorance and fear, it also testifies to the power of love and the capacity human beings have to make a difference and to write miracle endings in the face of impossible adversity.
The author, Gail Gillespie-Fox makes no apologies for her fierce opposition to the illegal slaughter, trade, and abuse of animals. Her account of the life-changing journey she and Missy shared is so authentic that it’s impossible for the reader to not love Missy too. As I read this book, I shared Gail’s joy and her love for Missy. Her sheer anguish and determination was palpable as she tried against all odds to make sure that Missy would live to see the sunset every day. In the face of great danger and uncertainty, she never lost sight (or hope) of her purpose to unite Missy with ‘her own kind’ in a safe, natural environment.
I loved this book and I confess that at times, I wished I had never started reading it. Gail shares: “She was as delightful as a mischievous toddler. She had taken my heart. I was not sure if I would ever get it back.”
Every reader of this book should be warned that you might just share the same fate. Gail’s honest portrayal of Missy’s personality and trust will steal your heart too. For this reason, the end will tear your heart out and as I sobbed in bed beside my sleeping husband last night, my heart ached for Gail, for Missy and for the unthinkable suffering and trauma my own species is capable of. A part of me is sorry that I know this now because I dislike humans even more than I did before.
Who Should Read This Book?
Whether you are an animal lover or not, you should read this book. Not just because our silence endorses the atrocities committed by our species against those that we have stewardship over, but because this is every bit as much about the future of our own species. Our survival is inextricably linked to that of other living creatures. As we perpetrate the imminent extinction of Missy, her fellows, and so many other creatures, we are inevitably engineering our own demise.
If you only read one book this year, this should be it. It is a triumphant true story of unequivocal love and a testimony to the difference we can make when we care enough. It is a call to action and I dare you to accept. Even if you can’t be involved in the front lines, you can add your voice.
You can add your voice and share the story of Missy and others who are in present danger by visiting Gail’s Facebook page: For Missy and her Chimp Friends. Your support matters.
Without Gail’s voice and unyielding determination to honour her promise to a defenceless animal, this book’s title could well have been ‘Her Name was Missy.’