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Zoology    by Ben Dolnick order for
by Ben Dolnick
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2007 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

After being asked by the Dean to take some time off before returning to his freshman year at American University, Henry Elinsky is at a loss about what to do with himself. But he realizes that hanging out at his parents' home in Chevy Chase where he has grown up is not the right solution.

His dad's answer is to put him to work as his teacher's aide at his old elementary school. He does this until his brother David steps in, inviting him to live in New York with him and his girlfriend Lucy. 'I can't stand to think of you here losing your mind,' David says. Henry jumps at the chance to leave home even though he doesn't like Lucy.

In New York Henry lands a job as a keeper at the Central Park Children's Zoo. Living with the rich-bitch Lucy while spending long hours shoveling poop and caring for his animal charges isn't ideal, but then he meets Margaret, a beautiful aspiring writer who also works at the zoo. While Henry pines after Margaret - who already has a boyfriend - a crisis develops at home.

Dolnick paints realistically touching pictures of Henry's family. His mother is 'dreamy, private, and a little fed up with everyone she knows.' His dad, a musician who teaches, is always an optimist and lonely, while Uncle Walter gives Henry advice on being invisible while living with David and Lucy. Readers will find Zoology a gentle coming of age story.

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