Thursday, September 1, 2011


It seems of late that all I do is book reviews! Well be prepared for another one cause I just finished a really interesting, thought provoking book.

The book is Unsaid by Neil Abramson. This book was sent to me to review from Sarah Reck, a Web Publicist with Faith Words at Hachette Book Group

If you love animals of any kind, this book will make you cry, and will make your heart ache, but it will also give you hope that there are people in this world that love animals and will do almost anything to save and protect them.

I can't say that I've always loved animals. I've been partial to cats but never really to the point that I wanted to own one. But my daughter April is a total animal lover and through her beloved Chorizo, I have learned to love animals a lot more now. I mean just look at this sweet little face! How can you not love her and through her...other animals!

In this book Unsaid, Neil Abramson takes us into the life of Helena Colden, the main character. The twist that made this book so intriguing to me is that we see the story take place through the eyes of Helena after her death! She tells us the story while visiting those she loves after she's left them behind.

In life Helena was a veterinarian. In death now she is afraid of meeting the souls of the hundreds of animals that through her hands were euthanized. In life Helena had many pets; dogs, cats, a cantankerous pig and horse and various other animals. In death she's seeing how her animals struggle to carry on without her. Animals don't understand death and they keep waiting for her to come back to them.

Helena also takes us on a trip into the use of animals, specifically chimpanzees for testing of various drugs and medical procedures. Until I had read this book I never thought about how these animals suffer for the sake of saving a human life.

In one particularly haunting portion of the book an attorney is questioning a researcher in the use of chimpanzees for medical research. He asks the researcher how many animals she has euthanized during the span of her career. She mentions tens of thousands. Upon further questioning she says, "Ten or ten thousand animals---it has absolutely no human pathological significance." The attorney then says, "if you must euthanize ten thousand animals to save a human life, then that is an acceptable result? Even if those ten thousand animals are chimpanzees?" The researcher replies, "Oh, yes. Even if they've been trained to recite the entire Declaration of Independence. My job is to save human life. Chimpanzees will never be human. They weren't yesterday, they aren't today, and they won't be tomorrow. Nothing else matters."

I'm not an animal rights activist, but the one line that rings out to me in what that researcher says is "chimpanzees will never be human." Ok...but aren't we humans? As humans don't we feel pain, sorrow, humiliation? As humans don't we have the intelligence to realize we should protect those weaker and less intelligent than ourselves? I understand research is necessary, but at what expense? This book really made me stop and think about this.

If you get a chance to pick up this book I highly recommend it. It is a difficult read for animal lovers, but it's a book all animal lovers and those that aren't should read.


  1. That sounds like an intriguing book. I can't read anything very deep or sad because I never seem to shake it but this sounds like a good one to buy for people on my gift list. I thought that was a very good review.

  2. The topic of drug experiments made on animals never leaves the public debate, as there are no clear cut answers on the matter.

    Anyway, your book review is excellent and I think reading Abramson's book "Unsaid" is a Must.

  3. Donnie - Welcome back to the blogging world my friend! I understand about reading things that are sad and how they stay with you. I'm just happy you honor me by reading my That's why I try to keep my blog light & happy, but every once in a while I'll discuss a deeper issue or share my woes with ya'll!

  4. DUTA - You are correct! Sometimes there are no clear cut answers, very good phrasing. While I understand that research is important it's also important to be humane. Many cures have been found through such research so you can't totally dismiss it. But definitely people like Mr. Abramson who bring the suffering to light and fight for the rights of animals are to be praised for their caring for those poor creatures placed into our care.

  5. Very interesting post. This area falls into one of those gray morality issues that defy an easy answer. Its easy to take one side or the other if one wears blinders to the opposite sides arguments, as seems to be the operative fashion in American discourse today. Everything is black and white, with no shades of gray, and I am totally right and you are totally wrong. Well it is an analogue world, not digital, and shades of gray prevail. One has to be careful in interpreting how things are presented. For instance in the testimony: "if you must euthanize ten thousand animals to save a human life, then that is an acceptable result?" We now have a mental equation of relative worth, 10,000 chimps = 1 human life. But it is false. No research is ever conducted that will save only one life, it is too expensive and the allowable times frames would in all likelihood not be effective. So it really is not a 10,000 to 1 ratio. I am not arguing that the premise of the book is wrong. I am just stating that arguments are often worded in such a way to arouse emotions in a target audience. Talk radio has made a science out of it. This is one those books that make you think, and the harder you think, quite often the less clear the answer becomes. We tend to not like shades of gray. Absolutes are so much easier to deal with. Excellent post.

  6. Great post, Alicia! As Sextant says, there is no easy answer.

    I work in a facility which unfortunately uses animals for medical research, but the research saves millions of human lives.

    Is there a special place in Heaven for animals who have sacrified their lives for human research? I hope so, and I hope they will be understanding of the human researchers when they get there too.

  7. Sextant and Jo - I too understand the need to use animals in research, but in the book, if you read it, it talks about how many of the animals are mistreated. They are given painful treatments and surgeries without anesthesia. They scream and are terrified, they don't understand anymore that a child would understand.

    I think if we are to use these animals then we need to make sure that we treat them as we would treat a human, making sure that they are comfortable and treated with kindness, compassion and love.

  8. Alicia,

    I didn't read the book so I can't discuss it with any accuracy. I agree with your statement that the animal should be treated with the best of care and the most humane conditions. This might stretch some budgets, but I would also say the animal testing should be conducted as rarely as possible.

  9. I had a chance to preview the first two chapters of this book after reading a review online. Neil Abramson draws you in from the very first chapter. He has a wonderful way with words and even though there were several subplots within the story, he kept it fluid and non-confusing. His prose is beyond reproach.


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