"The Upper Zoo" written by Michael Wolf is a story of the beginning friendship of two 13 year old boys in public school. Jonathan who is Jewish and did not apply himself in school the previous year is now in a special class to "catch up." Clarence who is Christian is in another type of special class because he is autistic. Within the school, these two types of classes are known as the "upper zoo" and "lower zoo." While Clarence is okay with his class, Jonathan is embarrassed to be in the "zoo."
Jonathan states the situation best as he says, "The world around me was on a collision course. And all my energy went toward trying to avoid it." I believe Jonathan's emotions will speak to anyone who has been unexpectedly removed from their "usual" circumstances and placed in environments where they feel awkward, rejected, and/or "less than." In our current USA economy many people are under or unemployed, adjusting to circumstances and jobs much lower than previous times and they will certainly identify with Jonathan's emotions as he tries to live his life and get through situations he does not want to experience.
The "zoo" situations are compounded for both boys as they are forced by circumstances to interact with dysfunctional family, friends, and school mates. In other words, they are experiencing life! I enjoyed this book because the author is a craftsman who knows how to create believable characters and tells their story in a manner which emotionally engaged me.
"The Upper Zoo" is just a funny name for a classroom--but you may find yourself reliving parts of your own childhood as you enter its doors. Fascinating characters, so real they will jolt you. Here is a microcosm of the "real world" with all its confusion, tragedy, pain and joy, as experienced by a bright, sensitive, caring young boy.
Are you or have you been an under-achiever? Well, as you answer this question...you will find this story of this young boy, and how he responded to being among his classmates and their lives. Read and enjoy this excellent story and relate it to your young life. An excellent book.
This book is an EXCELLENT read! I could hardly put it down and finished it in less than five hours. The characters are captivating and draw you right into their lives (which is a flashback for me of the 60's). I found myself relating this story to "zoo" times in my own youth...those awkward teenage struggles of where we fit & sometimes feeling like a misfit. Michael Wolf, this should become a movie!!!
THE UPPER ZOO by Michael Wolf is a remarkable journey
through friendship and failure, trials and tragedy and
brokenness and reconciliation. The story flows in such a way that it wouldn't let me put it down until I knew how it would turn out. Michael weaves a tapestry of real life issues that address some hard areas of life that will challenge the reader. The story doesn't pretend to leave you with everything tied into a pretty package. Rather, it encourages readers to expand their capacity for compassion and love.
At its core, THE UPPER ZOO reminds us that God's mighty redemptive purposes are always close by, even in the most unlikely circumstances, and through the most unlikely characters. The book took me back to my own youth of the 1960's, as I related to the main character. I even recognized some of the other players in
the story from people I knew back then.
Yet, above all the conflicts and partial resolutions in the
book, is the reality that God hasn't left us alone...neither
in the best of times or the worst of times. Whether we are
Jewish or not; strong or weak in the natural; smart or not
by society's standards or content or troubled--God has the
answer. Redemption is always near in the extended hand
of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
By the conclusion of the story, I was left with this strong
message in my spirit: "These three remain: faith, hope, and
love...and the greatest of these is love."
Thank you Michael for reminding us again where to fix our