Margot Robbie with Domhnall Gleeson/A.A. Milne biopic
Here’s how the author sums up her own novel on her blog at GinPhillips.com
The zoo is nearly empty late one afternoon as Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, soak up the last few minutes of the day. They are playing in a sandpit, half-hidden by tall trees, with the shadows and sunlight shifting over the gravel paths as Lincoln’s action figures announce evil plans and secret weapons. It is something close to perfect. So when Joan hears shots crack through the air, it seems foolish to think the distant sounds are anything other than construction work or practice fireworks for a Halloween celebration.
But as Joan rushes to the zoo exit to make it through the gate before closing time, she freezes at the sight of limp bodies on the ground and a lone, dark figure with a gun. She grabs her son and runs. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running. She races through the thatched roofs and bamboo fences of the African exhibits, eventually discovering an almost-perfect hiding place. With each passing minute, she deals with distracting a four-year-old at the same time that silence and stillness are essential to survival. It is the first time she has ever felt that keeping her child happy might be at odds with keeping him alive.
Eventually she’s driven into a moonlit zoo full of animal carcasses and glowing moss and the sound of a baby crying. Along the way, she crosses the paths of fellow survivors. And then there are the gunmen themselves, who Joan is determined to analyze and solve. Perhaps if she dissects them thoroughly, she can figure out how to outsmart them.
Ultimately, this story is about the bond between a mother and child. It’s a look at what it means to be a parent—and what it means to be human. It is, more than that, a look at the ways we are bound together, whether we are strangers or family.
* I had no idea when I mentioned her age, that there was a whole spate of conspiracy theories about the validity of it. What her true age is, why she’s lying about it, a host of nonsense. Google it if you’re interested.