When I was sixteen, and trying to determine what to do with my future I found the answer in a book called When Elephants Weep, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. This book convinced me to go into zoology, with a particular focus on the presence of emotion in animals. While my specifics in the field of zoology may have altered a little, I always love to read about this topic. Laurel Braitman has written an approachable, emotionally-driven novel to try to show that animals have emotion.
Braitman uses a wide array of animals from whales to parrots and dogs to elephants, to show examples of emotion being present in animals. The amount of travel and study this author put into her novel is astounding. The back of the book includes a 50ish page reference list, and she spoke to hundreds of scientists to learn new things and find out more about the topics she already did know. She also took the reader through history, to see how people and animals worked together in the past, and if there was ever any evidence for emotion throughout time.
The story starts on a sad and personal note for the author, and I`m very impressed with the way she moved on with her life in a positive way, to determine why that traumatic event happened and how it could have been prevented. Many people would have broken down after that event. Braitman`s writing technique allows the readers to truly feel every emotion throughout the book; there were chapters where I would cry, laugh and sit there goofily beaming all within a few pages.
I think any animal lover, pet owner or anyone remotely interested in psychology or animals (including humans) should add this book to their bookshelf immediately! When Elephants Weep may have been the first book that interested me in this subject, but in my personal opinion, Braitman managed to write a beautiful, easy to understand read that will always have a place in my heart.
Wesley Wilson is a zoology student at the University of Guelph and works on campus at a microbiology lab. When Wesley isn’t studying away, she spends most of her time reading. Anna Karenina is her favourite book, but she enjoys reading a variety of different genres.