Mercy on These Teenage ChimpsTitle: Mercy on These Teenage Chimps
Author: Gary Soto
ISBN: 9780152060220
Pages: 147 pages
Publisher/Date: Harcourt Inc. c2007.

I, Ronald Gonzalez, better known as Ronnie, was like any other boy until I turned thirteen and woke up as a chimpanzee. (1)

Thirteen year olds Ronnie and Joey feel like their chimpanzees (completely different than monkeys) as they encounter growth spurts, long dangling arms, and *sniff* really bad smells. But as much as they joke about it, they don’t take kindly to Joey’s old wrestling coach calling him a monkey and yelling at him in front of his new crush, Jessica. Joey figures that if everyone thinks he’s a monkey, he might as well live in a tree, which he promptly climbs and refuses to leave. Ronnie is convinced that if he convinces Jessica to visit Joey, he might come out of the tree. Gary Soto tells the story of mislead love and how to fall off roofs in Mercy on the Teenage Chimps.

I think it’s the antics that Ronnie goes through to comfort his friend and solve the problem that hold this story together. A boy in a tree… ehh. While Joey might have reacted that way in real life, the fact that his mother just accepts his exile in the tree, and then provides him with all the comforts of home just boggles my mind. It’s a romantic story though, and teen girls will like it for that reason. I find myself comparing it to that old show “Hey, Arnold!” on Nickelodian, except role reversal. The guy is the one standing on top of the roof, screaming the girl’s name. The description I read of the book made it sound like a Cyrano story, where he feeds lines to his friend. But it’s not, and ultimately there’s nothing really memorable about this book except the title.

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