Tuesday, July 19, 2016

We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee

I remembered the movie coming out, and me thinking, "Ugh, that looks so stupid." Years later, I buy the audiobook. It was on sale, and I forgot that Matt Damon was in the movie, so I figured, why not? I think also Scarlett Johansson is also in the movie, but I don't know who she plays.

The audiobook opens with a British narrator. Oh sweet, it's a British family who bought a farm in the UK. Cool. A family who decided to take a risk by buying a farm! Interesting!

Uh, this book opens with a major bummer. Benjamin, Katherine and family moved to France... because, well... just because? I think they just wanted to move there, and both Benjamin and Katherine could work remotely. They purchased a house where Benjamin could fix up when Katherine started to become listless and not herself.

She has a brain tumor, and it's one of those really tough, rare brain tumors that no matter what a person does, it comes back.

This book is going to be devastating.

The first 50 pages of the book is not about the farm at all, but the set up Katherine's eventual passing. You hope, despite of all the odds, that her brain tumor is not going to come back after it's removed, but 3/4th of the way through the book, after they struggle their way through buying the farm, the brain tumor comes back, and Benjamin describes in heart breaking detail of his wife's demise. The way he wrote her was so tender, and even some of the grosser aspects of him taking care of her.

I loved the way he wrote, and of course, I always have a fondness of dry, British humor. Benjamin goes through the process of buying a very run down zoo, with the intent of giving the animals a good home. His entire family, his mother and his siblings, put a lot of money into it. It was a bit stressful hearing how many loans they had to take out, as well as the all the loans that kept falling through.

He had many antidotes about putting together a working crew, dealing with their personalities as well as accumulating money in order to get the zoo up to working order. I also enjoyed the bits about the various animals and their circumstances, with Benjamin's dash of absurdity.

Some of the reviews state that he was dry, but I didn't get that at all. It's possible that it made a better audiobook, with a sweet British accent that could read the British sarcasm and wit; capturing the absurdity of life, and the inclination to not take it so seriously.

I definitely like audiobooks where you can zone out and come back to them, without really missing a whole lot. What I've also realized that I like audiobooks where the plot is a bit simpler, so I can work and listen at the same time.

So, overall, it's a good book if you want an emotional wrecker with the pick me up of saving animals.

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