The One and Only Ivan
By: Katherine Applegate
This book is a piece of art. It weaves emotions, stories, and relationships in such a delicate manner that you won't realize how much these characters mean to you until more than half way through the book. The book is written from the point of view of Ivan, a silverback gorilla that lives in a mall. He is a gentle, understanding animal and artist. Through Ivan and his human friend, the Janitor's daughter Julia (who is also an artist), you are reacquainted with how close we are to animals, and how the definition of humanity is not always clear. He weaves the stories of the relationships between Stella, an older elephant, Ruby, a baby elephant, Bob, a stray dog, and himself all while we learn of each animal's history of how they ended up at the mall. Once you learn of their history, you experience the frustration, love, and hope that Ivan puts into convincing Julia to help them all have a better future outside of the mall. I cried at the end of this book because of the pure beauty and emotional depth. This story put me in touch with places in my heart that I almost forgot were there. Read this. You won't regret it.