I have owned Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby for almost four years now and have pulled it off the shelf to read many time but, knowing it would be (for me) a very tough read, I never started it. Then I read Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan, the slightly fictionalized story of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who was raised like a human child until he became too big. He was then placed in the B&I Public Marketplace in Tacoma, WA, also known as the Circus Mall. For almost thirty years Ivan lived in a small, dank enclosure without the society of other gorillas, people passing by day after day, making faces and pounding on the glass of his cage. In 1994 PAWS, an organization that works toward the goal of "a world where all people recognize the intrinsic value of animals and consistently make choices that demonstrate compassion and respect" intervened on Ivan's behalf and found him a home at the Atlanta Zoo where he lives with other gorillas. I was so moved by Applegate's book and Ivan's story that I knew I had to read Hurt Go Happy next, even though I knew it was also based on a true story and would be even more heartbreaking than Ivan's story.
One final thing. I was talking with a librarian today and she told me about a book that consumed her. Endangered, by Eliot Sherfer. You can read the New York Times' excellent review here. This sounds like the perfect, but equally heartbreaking, next book for readers who loved Hurt Go Happy. Hopefully I'll get to review it soon, but, as I said above, these kind of animal stories are hard for me - even when I know there will be a happy ending.