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The One and Only Family Book Review- The Perfect Ending to a Beloved Series

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It is hard to believe, but it has been over a decade since we first read and fell in love with The One and Only Ivan. Since then we have added more members to the family with The One and Only Bob and The One and Only Ruby. Well, the crew is back for one last adventure…and it was everything that I hoped it would be! Full of all the same fun, charm, and emotion that we have come to love from Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Family is the perfect ending to a beloved series. Sending a huge thank you to Nicole Banholzer PR for sending me a copy for review! Let’s chat!

The One and Only Family by Katherine Applegate

Some books have a way of sticking with you long after you finish reading them. The One and Only Ivan was one of those books for me. I absolutely adored reading it aloud to my kids…even if it DID make me a teary-eyed mess on more than one occasion. I fell in love with Ivan and loved getting to know him and his friends in The One and Only Ivan, The One and Only Bob, and The One and Only Ruby. So, when I learned that this would be the last book in the series I had such mixed emotions. I was sad to see such a wonderful series come to an end…but I was also excited to see where the story would take us! I am happy to report that this was the perfect ending to the series. We get to catch up with all of our old friends…and welcome a new friend or two into the mix!

Quick Synopsis

Life is going pretty great for our pal Ivan. He is the resident silverback gorilla at a wildlife sanctuary. He has his friend Ruby next door in the elephant enclosure, and Bob stops by to visit as often as he can. Ivan is also sharing his life with his mate Kinyani. Life is pretty sweet. Well, it is about to get sweeter…and a little crazier as Ivan and Kinyani welcome not 1 but 2 baby gorillas into the family. Twins! Ivan is a DAD! Being a parent is so much fun…but also a little overwhelming and full of worry. As Ivan watches his chilldren grow up in captivity he is also having a lot of memories flood back…some good and some bad. Ivan is remembering life in the mall circus and his life in the jungle with his own twin. He wants to protect his children from these harsh realities…but the reality is, his children will never know a life outside of the sanctuary walls.

A Five Star Finale

I absolutely adored this book and recommend it to anyone who has loved the previous books as much as I did. Katherine Applegate writes with so much heart. It is impossible not to fall in love with her characters. I loved the parallels in this book between gorilla parenting and human parenting. Nothing in life can quite prepare you for how your life is going to change once you bring that little person home. It’s funny to think I am taking advice from a gorilla, but, something Kinyani said in the book has really stuck with me. As Ivan was full of worry think about how to protect his children from the world, Kinyani says, “It is our job to prepare them for the world.”

As with all of Katherine Applegate’s books, The One and Only Family had my emotions going from 0 to 60 and back again. So many laughs from gorilla belches, me-balls (also known as poop), and the twins learning how to pop-drop. Then so many moments of having a lump in my throat. Ivan thinking back to his youth, his time in the jungle with his twin, his time in the mall circus…it is just heartbreaking to think about. Seeing Ivan become a Dad and watching his relationship with his twins blossom was so special. I related so much to all of the worry he has as a parent and wanting to protect your children from all of the sadness and scariness of the world.

This was just such an incredible story that celebrates family…both genetic and found family. I love the relationships between Bob, Ivan, Ruby, and Kinyani. I was so glad that we were able to catch up with the entire crew and meet the next generation. Couldn’t have asked for a better finale!

Five Stars from this booknerd!

For More Info

The One and Only Family publishes on May 7th, 2024.

For a list of other Middle-Grade titles that are publishing in May, head over to my blog post here.

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