The Girl With No Name: The Incredible True Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys

Overview

The poignant story of a girl who overcomes unique hardship and deprivation - growing up with a troop of capuchin monkeys - to find ultimate redemption.In 1954, in a remote mountain village in South America, a little girl was abducted. She was four years old. Marina Chapman was stolen from her housing estate and then abandoned deep in the Colombian jungle. That she survived is a miracle. Two days later, half-drugged, terrified, and starving, she came upon a troop of capuchin monkeys. Acting entirely on instinct, ...

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Overview

The poignant story of a girl who overcomes unique hardship and deprivation - growing up with a troop of capuchin monkeys - to find ultimate redemption.In 1954, in a remote mountain village in South America, a little girl was abducted. She was four years old. Marina Chapman was stolen from her housing estate and then abandoned deep in the Colombian jungle. That she survived is a miracle. Two days later, half-drugged, terrified, and starving, she came upon a troop of capuchin monkeys. Acting entirely on instinct, she tried to do what they did: she ate what they ate and copied their actions, and little by little, learned to fend for herself.So begins the story of her five years among the monkeys, during which time she gradually became feral; she lost the ability to speak, lost all inhibition, lost any real sense of being human, replacing the structure of human society with the social mores of her new simian family. But society was eventually to reclaim her. At age ten she was discovered by a pair of hunters who took her to the lawless Colombian city of Cucuta where, in exchange for a parrot, they sold her to a brothel. When she learned that she was to be groomed for prostitution, she made her plans to escape. But her adventure wasn’t over yet...
In the vein of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "City of God," this rousing story of a lost child who overcomes the dangers of the wild and the brutality of the streets to finally reclaim her life will astonish readers everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chapman tells the harrowing story of her being stolen from her home in Columbia in 1954 at the young age of four by unknown assailants and dropped in the woods to fend for herself. She found comfort and family among a group of monkeys, whose land she happened to stumble upon. The jungle, being an unforgiving place, forced Chapman to learn the ropes quickly, and she found solace in belonging to a group, regardless of species. In fact, as time progressed, she became more comfortable as a monkey than as a human, even being shunned by the indigenous people in the South American jungle. Throughout her time spent in the forest, Chapman learned an important lesson about belonging; “Family is not just about who you appear to belong to... or who you look like... is found anywhere you are loved and cared for.” Unfortunately, this lesson was demonstrated again and again, as one day the little girl was taken from the jungle and began a more difficult life trying to survive the dangers of a “people’s world.” Sold to a brothel, only to run away and become a street-hustler, then later staying with an abusive Mafioso family, life was not easy for the girl of many names, until finally one woman took pity on her and offered her to a better life. This book, which is as much a memoir about the importance of classification and belonging as it is about the endurance of the human spirit, will be enjoyed by those looking for a story of perseverance through even the greatest obstacles life brings. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
The improbable story of how Chapman was kidnapped from her rural Colombian village at the age of 5 and abandoned in the jungle. According to the tale, pieced together by her daughter, Vanessa James, Chapman adopted monkey ways--eating what they ate, climbing trees and mimicking their calls--until five years later, when she connected with some hunters in the hopes of being returned to her family. Instead, she was left in a brothel on the outskirts of the nearby city. There she was kept in semislavery as a house servant. Gradually, she relearned Spanish and the rudiments of civilized life. Escaping, she fell in with other homeless children and was ultimately taken in by a brutal Mafia family, where she was again reduced to servitude. The book ends when the author, around the age of 14, was rescued by a neighbor's daughter, who offered her a real home in another town. Although ostensibly written as a first-person account by Chapman, the preface by James and the epilogue by novelist Barrett-Lee (One Day, Someday, 2003, etc.) provide a different picture. James explains how she was intrigued by her mother's stories about life among the monkeys and also by the oddity of her own upbringing--for example, having to sit and howl at her mother's feet before being fed. She decided "to piece together mum's tangled memories" about the "magical world" living in the jungle with a tribe of monkeys and the life of a Colombian street child, characterized by "kidnappings, abductions, drugs, crime, murder and child abuse." Barrett-Lee admits that she was given "a huge, unwieldy document" to work with, which she then scripted. An intriguing adventure story that often doesn't ring true. Caveat emptor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984742
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 4/1/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 491,894
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Based in Wales, co-author Lynne Barrett-Lee's first novel, Julia Gets a Life, was published by Bantam. Her most recent novel, Barefoot in the Dark, was shortlisted for the inaugural Melissa Nathan Award.

Now married to an Englishman and living in Bradford, England, Marina Chapman plans to donate her share of the profits from this book to help finance charities that combat human trafficking and child slavery in Colombia.

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