As a veterinarian, Helena had mercifully escorted thousands of animals to the other side. Now, having died herself, she finds that it is not so easy to move on. She is terrified that her 37 years of life were meaningless, error-ridden, and forgettable. So Helena haunts-- and is haunted by-- the life she left behind. Meanwhile, David, her shattered attorney husband, struggles with grief and the demands of caring for her houseful of damaged and beloved animals. But it is her absence from her last project, Cindy-- a chimpanzee who may unlock the mystery of communication and consciousness-- that will have the greatest impact on all of them.
When Cindy is scheduled for a research experiment that will undoubtedly take her life, David must call upon everything he has learned from Helena to save her. In the explosive courtroom drama that follows, all the threads of Helena's life entwine and tear as Helena and David confront their mistakes, grief, and loss, and discover the only way to save Cindy is to understand what it really means to be human.
Neil Abramson is a partner in a Manhattan law firm, and his wife is a veterinarian. Abramson is also a past board member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an award recipient from the ASPCA for his legal work on behalf of animals, and a founding member of the New York City Bar Association Committee on Legal Issues Relating to Animals.
In this heartfelt though predictable debut, Abramson explores the interconnecting relationships between animals and people, as well as the sensitive topic of scientific animal testing. Though wearying at times with endless narrative on compassion for all living beings, the novel is still touching and emotional. Thirty-seven-year-old lawyer David Colden is reeling from the death of his veterinarian wife, Helena, when he is approached by one of her colleagues, Jaycee, who worked with Helena teaching Cindy, a chimpanzee, to use American Sign Language. The funding for the chimpanzee project is about to come to a halt, and Jaycee initially wants David to obtain a court order so Cindy isn't used in scientific experiments. David refuses at first, too distraught over his loss and taking care of all Helena's pets: three dogs, six cats, horses, and a pig. But when Jaycee breaks into the government institution to "save" Cindy and is arrested, David agrees to represent her in court. Helena narrates from the afterlife and is an important presence in the courtroom during Jaycee's trial. Sudden life-changing events teach David love and acceptance, and while emotion often trumps plot, the focus on animal rights (Abramson is a lawyer who has been recognized by the ASPCA for his legal work) will resonate with animal lovers. (Aug.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.
"An extraordinary story of animals, mortality, and the power of love. Everyone needs to read this novel!"Garth Stein, author of the International Bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain
"UNSAID will really make you think about the relationship between people and animals. I was not able to put it down, and I read parts of it twice."Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human
UNSAID says it all in a lyrical story about humanity's journey from betrayal to reconciliation with our animal kin. A beautiful, wrenching testimony."G.A. Bradshaw, director and founder, The Kerulos Center, and author of Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us About Humanity
"Neil Abramson has written a powerful and imaginative novel. His insights into the animal kingdom touched my heart. My book club will love it."Meredith Brokaw, creator and co-author of the Penny Whistle book and Big Sky Cooking
"A compelling story of love, death, and ethics told with skill and sensitivity."Carla Davis, Editor, Best Friends magazine
"If you love legal dramas...or dogs...or terrific writing...or originality...or people...or discovering wonderful new writers, then Neil Abramson's UNSAID is a book you simply must read."David Rosenfelt, author of Dog Tags
"Enjoyed it thoroughly."Jeffrey Masson, author of When Elephants Weep
"...a remarkable book."Susan Wilson, author of One Good Dog and The Fortune Teller's Daughter
"A poignant read on the meaning of life and its priorities--how death and despair can lead to renewal and life, but only if one realizes the interconnectedness of all creatures."Irene M. Pepperberg, author of Alex and Me
"This moving and riveting novel beautifully expresses the transforming power of the human-animal relationship. Read it if you shared your life with an animal, but more importantly, read it if you haven't."Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, and author of the bestseller Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food
"A suspenseful, heart-throbbing novel exploring the big questions of life, death, sentience, animal rights, compassion, righteous indignation, and what it is all about and why. The surprise twists are like an emotional roller coaster. Read it, weep, grab your chair, and gain insights into the big why!"Allen M. Schoen, D.V.M., and author of Kindred Spirits: How the Remarkable Bond Between Humans and Animals Can Change the Way We Live
"Humans are pretty much a big-brained, self-centered, and arrogant lot, but when we allow ourselves to connect with other animals in deep and meaningful ways, they ground us and allow us to show who we really are--compassionate, empathetic, and caring beings. In this unique and moving novel, Neil Abramson shows just how strong our relationships with other animals can be, and how we can learn so much from our animal kin about their needs, their emotions, and respect, dignity, and love. I was continually moved as I read UNSAID and reflected on its important messages about just how important other animals are to us, and encourage you to read this intriguing book and share it widely."Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, Wild Justice, and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint
"A remarkable book, uncanny in that its narrator is recently deceased, but vivid in its development of believable and complex characters, both human and nonhuman. The author embeds in the story important aspects of current controversies over the extent of animal capacities as well as a keen sense of the value of animal livesSusan J. Armstrong, Professor Emerita, Humboldt State University, and co-editor, The Animal Ethics Reader
"Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, a novel of animal slaughter and the men who perform it, exerted a powerful influence on a much earlier generation. May I hope that Neil Abramson's novel, UNSAID, will have a similar effect on present day readers and help us understand that animals need us as much as we need them. A riveting tale!"George K. Russell, Professor of Biology, Adelphi University and Senior Editor, Orion magazine
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