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“This book is about a girl who was raised by monkeys,” a friend said recently. She had the book in hand, and I was interested. Thinking The Jungle Book. She lent me her copy and I read it in a couple of days.

The Girl with No Name is the fascinating account of the life of Marina Chapman, kidnapped from her home in Colombia in the early 1950s at the age of almost-five, and growing up in two of the country’s most frightening jungles: the rainforest and the city.

This is, according to an afterward by the ghostwriter, Lynne Barrett-Lee, the first of two novels, as Marina’s life is filled with more fascinating detail than can be told easily in one volume. I haven’t been able to find the second installment, but there is apparently a documentary about Marina on the National Geographic channel, so I’ll take a look there.

According to the story, Marina was picked up and drugged by kidnappers, then dropped off in the jungle as they ran for their lives, and subsequently cared for by capuchin monkeys for about five years. Marina’s memories of her monkey family are detailed and sweet. I think the specific word picture that sticks with me most, clean-freak that I am, is how she remembers being groomed by the capuchins and all the bugs and insects they found in her hair and ears. I shudder. But, if her story is true, and I tend to believe it is, she displays an amazing ability to adapt and survive.

As difficult as Marina’s rainforest survival was, the memories are sweet compared to the abuse she suffered at the hands of well-meaning or outright evil people in the city.

This book is penned by a ghostwriter, since Marina’s language skills were somewhat compromised by the years she didn’t speak. I found the story flowed with lovely descriptive phrases and color that delighted me and suited the character. I read mostly fiction, so this was a departure from my normal reading patterns, but I enjoyed it. Thanks, Kathy W. for lending it to me.

To delve more deeply into Marina’s story, check out these sites:

It’s your choice to believe it or not, but either way, this story is a captivating.

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I met this book on a friend’s book review blog, and it sounded intriguing. I was not disappointed. What’s not to like about a main character with a blank past, vague memories of another world, romance, danger, world travel and even time travel?

One night, a young woman finds herself in a New York museum with no memory of who she is or how she got there. An employee gives her a job researching an ancient civilization, the Minoan culture, and that becomes her life. Kallie is content with her place in the basement office of the museum, until she is thrust into the limelight at a fundraiser. It is there that she meets Dimitri Andreas, a wealthy and handsome benefactor of the museum, whose favor she must seek. Her sales pitch is a disaster, but she meets Dimitri personally, and he seems more interested in her and her research than in her failed speech.

A series of unforeseen incidents bring them together, but they come from different levels of society, and Kallie harbors her secret of a missing past. When she is asked by Dimitri to join a team to Egypt to look for artifacts from the Minoan civilization, she realizes she has a strong affinity for the region. She also comes to see that Dimitri Andreas is also not the person he seems to be. When their desires would pull them together, their secrets keep them apart.

The sequence of events creates plot intensity, the characters are strong figures who seek their true identity with integrity and courage, and even the artifacts they seek are not what they expect. Throw in an antagonist who cares for nothing but the end game, and the intensity increases.

I particularly enjoyed Kallie’s journey of self-discovery, allowing her true character to emerge.

Interesting links:

Book Reviewer Janet Sketchley

Author Tracy Higley

Tracy Higley

 

 

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