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Primal Tears Paperback – October 14, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"What a great book! I loved it, and found it to be totally enthralling. As I read, I felt drawn deeper and deeper into a primal sense of hope. Not a naive hope, not wishful thinking, but a hope arising out of a sense of the immensity of human evolution and the profundity of our interconnectedness with all of life. I hope everyone on our dear and endangered Earth reads this book."—John Robbins, author Healthy at 100 and Diet For a New America"Primal Tears is a novel of tremendous power. Passionate and erotic, at times tenderly lyrical, it confronts head-on, without flinching, brutal environmental and feminist politics. Its protagonist, Sage, is unique, magical, and haunting."—Kate Wilhelm, author of The Unbidden Truth, Clear and Convincing Proof, and Skeletons"Kelpie Wilson's Primal Tears has rounded, memorable characters, evocative descriptions, lively dialogue, an exciting plot, and an understated, evenhanded wit that is very engaging...It is a clear-eyed, courageous look at some of the most denied and neglected threats to the biosphere and the place of humans in it."—David Rains Wallace, author of The Monkey's Bridge and The Bonehunters' Revenge"Primal Tears is primal storytelling, thoughtful and passionate. Kelpie Wilson wonderfully expands our definitions of human and family."—Greg Bear, author of Blood Music, The Forge of God, Darwin's Radio, and Quantico

About the Author

Writer, editor, and engineer Kelpie Wilson is well known as an environmental activist. Her articles have appeared in Wild Earth, The Progressive, and the Earth First! Journal. She is currently an editor and writer for, an online news service with a worldwide audience. Wilson lives with her husband in a solar-powered cabin in the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon. Visit her at

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Frog Books; First Edition edition (October 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583941339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583941331
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,555,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Karen Wood-Campbell on January 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
Kelpie Wilson has written a truly fascinating story with her first novel. Taking a little-known endangered primate, the bonobo, and weaving it together with environmental and population politics, the breathtaking setting of the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains, and fascinating personalities, Wilson has produced a tale - and an unforgettable character in Sage - that will get under your skin and stay there.

Wilson's storytelling talent really shines in this first novel. The people and places come alive, and the main character will feel like a good friend by the time you finish the book. And you'll finish it fast - she has written a real page-turner full of action and suspense that takes the reader from the wilderness of southwest Oregon to the war-ravaged hills of the Congo and back again.

All along the way, Wilson challenges you to think and to challenge some of your assumptions. In addition to raising some serious issues, she has permeated the book with spirit and hope, particularly in the person of the main character, Sage, whose sweetness is like hope itself.

_Primal Tears_ is highly recommended, entertaining read; I hope this is just the beginning from a very talented writer. And make sure you visit [...] to read about the very real struggles of the real bonobos.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karen Pickett on February 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Primal Tears is a funny, deep, exciting and-biologically correct-novel springing from an innovative idea: What if efforts to bring back endangered species from the brink are taken another step through a captive breeding program with human surrogate mothers increasing birth rate of the threatened species? Not possible for snail darters or tiger salamanders, but it is not so far flung a concept for bonobo chimps, as close to humans genetically as horses are to donkeys. Sarah Carrigan, author Kelpie Wilson's character in her first novel, Primal Tears, decides to host a bonobo embryo in her womb in just such an ecologically-driven experiment. She got more than she bargained for when the fertilized egg failed to implant, but some left-over bonobo sperm fertilizes one of her eggs. Thus starts the story of Sage, the human-bonobo girl.

Sage draws from both worlds, being extremely agile and strong, smart and curious, but decidedly different from her peers, sporting a slightly protruding brow and a hairy back. When she finally learns the truth about her conception, trouble comes galloping in from the Child Welfare agency, followed by the local Sheriffs and federal agents, fired up by the bible-thumping Kristian Kommand, who call her "Satan's spawn". All hell breaks loose as the family flees to prevent Sage from being taken away. We are along for the ride on Sage's adventures, exploring her early-arriving sexuality, living in the forest with the bears, running from the right-wing crazies and hooking up with "Tree Nation", a group of young tree-sitters determined to keep the chain saws at bay in the old growth forest. She and her teenage friends form an organization to save the bonobos from extinction-a present danger in the real world today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann Kirk on February 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Primal Tears is an entertaining, fast paced, and thought-provoking novel. The carefully researched settings let the reader experience very real, adventurous escapades in the beautiful Siskiyou mountains while the philosophical sentiment of the novel is expressed by Sage, the human-animal heroine, on page 176. "Left to herself she vacated the house and emerged into the cool spring air....Glad as she was that family and friends were with her in Seattle, it was good to be alone right now. She had spent two years without any human contact at all. Here she was introduced to new people every day: scientists from John's lab, the people from the Pearl Show who had flown out to meet her, and all the people who worked for Richard: ...So many people and so few bears."

This fictional account of a laboratory accident lets us all take another look at how we got here. Kelpie Wilson has a keen understanding of what motivates people, and her story, while leading us through a fun adventure, also leads us to take a fresh look at our relationship to other life-forms in our world, both now and in the past.

It really made me think.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nightbow on July 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
For my nickel, the best sf shifts the reader's perspective out of the ordinary just enough so that the human condition can be seen more clearly. Kelpie Wilson accomplishes this with gusto and vision in Primal Tears. Other reviewers here have already given synposes, so let me stick with why you should read PRIMAL TEARS: it's provocative, clever, fast-paced and memorable. It changes the way you see yourself and our world. I read it over a summer weekend, and now find I keep thinking back to it, remembering connections made, powerful images, new ways to think about what it means to be the animal that calls itself human. And PRIMAL TEARS' scope is large: it's not simply a book about chimps--it's about all of us. It's graceful, quirky, and satisfying enough to share a bookshelf with Sherri Tepper's THE FAMILY TREE and Keri Hulme's THE BONE PEOPLE. Kelpie Wilson is a rip-roaring storyteller who weaves her narrative threads together in cinematic style. I can't wait for the movie--will someone out there please turn it into one?
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