Laura from the Amherstview Branch recently enjoyed The Last Neanderthal, a new book by Claire Cameron, the Canadian author of the popular novel The Bear.
"Claire Cameron’s The Last Neanderthal details the parallel lives of Girl, a Neanderthal from about 40 000 years ago, and Rose, an archaeologist in the modern day," Laura explains. "Both women are strong female characters who are pregnant. Rose finds a homo sapien and a Neanderthal in a cave in modern France during a dig. The two skeletons are found staring at each other and holding hands. She suggests that there was a loving connection between the two, and gets funding from a museum in New York for this once in a lifetime discovery. However, Rose struggles to find a balance with the love of her work and her partner. In the other narrative, Girl struggles to survive as her family dies off. She is left to care for Runt, a character whose origin is unknown. Girl must survive harsh winters and loneliness as begins to realize that her kind are dying off. Both stories are equally compelling as both face mental and physical challenges in their pregnancies and in early parenting."
The strong matriarchal society of the Neanderthals coupled with the struggles of Rose’s modern relationships makes for a compelling and creative read
"Cameron conceived the idea for her book after the recent scientific discovery that modern humans have some Neanderthal DNA from possible interbreeding from thousands of years ago. Her imagining of what the last Neanderthals’ family lives would have been like is interesting, especially given that she notes in her acknowledgements that she had help with researching Neanderthal lives for the book. Girl's family life and daily life, and Neanderthal language is imaginative. This, to me, was the greatest strength of the novel because it was from a very different point of view for readers. The strong matriarchal society of the Neanderthals coupled with the struggles of Rose’s modern relationships makes for a compelling and creative read."
You can reserve it in print or e-book formats online here.