Dec 8, 2014

The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter

by Holly Robinson

A lively read- it's amusing and interesting, reminded me of many things and taught me others. It's another memoir, about growing up in a family with a very curious secret: her father raised gerbils. By the thousands. Some were sold to pet shops, but most were to supply medical and scientific research. The author's father was in the military, and for the longest time kept his gerbil hobby a secret, because it wouldn't look proper. Later when he had his own gerbil farm instead of a basement or garage setup, he just let neighbors in the rural community assume they bred rats. His efforts to produce animals with certain traits needed in research led to her father becoming famous among certain circles, but it wasn't until Holly grew up and took her own children to a gerbil show that she discovered another side: gerbil fanciers. Actually though, most of the story isn't about gerbils. It's about growing up: dealing with siblings, parents, moving, going through a horse craze, first boyfriends and so on. The chapters about her sister who had cystic fibrosis reminded me acutely of a book I read decades ago called Alex: the Life of a Child. I like the way this book is written- it has a very engaging style that reminded me of Betty MacDonald.

Rating: 3/5        288 pages, 2009

3 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Who knew people raised gerbils? This sounds good to me!

Jackie Bailey said...

I used to keep and breed gerbils as a child and so this sounds interesting to me. Only one problem: The picture is very small, but those look like hamsters on the cover?

Jeane said...

I think those are gerbils on the cover- their faces are very similar to hamsters, and they come in several color varieties now (although the ones in her father's breeding operation were all the standard tan/agouti color).