The lush jungles and sandy beaches of Kiri’s future-Florida home are all she's ever known. Those places are where she grew up, where she laughed when things went well, cried when things did not, and was simply there when things happened around her, and she paid no attention to them. Kiri’s life was in that place. Yet, she never really fit in. Being the daughter of a fugee and a waller was hard, especially when her mother died, leaving her and her waller father alone, with only the fugees for company. Kiri loved the fugees. They were her family; but the fugees hated wallers and hated her father, occasionally hating her, too.
When Kiri finds a panther, her life changes forever. Caught in the middle between a battle of the fugees and the wallers, Kiri must learn to stand on her own. The fugees want to trade the panther for food and clothing. The wallers want to put the panther in a zoo. Kiri wants to let the panther go free. As Kiri is pulled between the two societies, she learns that no matter who she sides with, there will always be someone on the other side, pulling her back.
With bravery, kindness, and strength, Kiri must learn how to fight through the wilderness of her own heart and find who she is truly meant to be.
The Last Panther was a book that opened my eyes to many things. Sometimes, as a middle class citizen of the United States, I take for granted many things like food, clothing, and shelter: things the fugees didn’t always have. I love animals, especially seeing them in zoos, but this book raises a question: are zoos always a good thing? This book made me see that sometimes things that might not seem important to me really should be. This book made me see that decisions aren’t always black and white. Most of the time, both sides have good and bad points, and I feel like I’m right in the middle, sitting on the fence, in a sense.
I loved how developed the characters were. Kiri is a relatable girl who warms the heart of every person who knows her. She is special, lovable, and kind, always putting others before herself. I loved this book, and I think anyone, animal lover or not, will enjoy this book as well. It is a heartwarming story about friendship, bravery, and standing up for what you believe in; everyone, young or old, should read it.