Sunday, 7 January 2018

ARC Book Review: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Transworld

Published: November 2017

Pages: 238


Summary


It's not the journey that counts, but who's at your side.

Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van. Satoru is keen to visit three old friends from his youth, though Nana doesn't know why and Satoru won't say.

Set against the backdrop of Japan's changing seasons and narrated with a rare gentleness and humour, Nana's story explores the wonder and thrill of life's unexpected detours. It is about the value of friendship and solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take. The Travelling Cat Chronicles has already demonstrated its power to move thousands of readers with a message of kindness and truth. It shows, above all, how acts of love, both great and small, can transform our lives.


My Thoughts...


During the Christmas season, I often tend to turn to feel-good stories, which is one of the reasons why I picked up this book. I was definitely not disappointed. The Travelling Cat Chronicles delivers exactly what it promises: a heartwarming story about a street-cat and his new human friend, and the way in which life can be enjoyed, even when it doesn't quite go as planned.

Nana has always been proud of his ability to survive on the streets and his complete independence. When an accident leaves him in need of help, it is human Satoru who steps in, welcomes Nana in his home and nurses him back to health. Touched by Satoru's behaviour, and impressed by his ability to understand feline needs, Nana decides to stick around. Everything seems to be going really well for this unlikely pair of friends, until Satoru takes Nana on a trip around the country to visit old childhood friends, hoping one of them will become Nana's new owner.

Narrated from Nana's point of view, this book lets us delicately in on Satoru's character and his past. Through his encounters with old friends, we gradually develop a full picture of this young man, gaining an understanding of the choices he made, and how he influenced the lives of those around him. As Nana starts to understand the complexities of his owner's life, and worries about the reasons underlying their imminent separation, we too grow closer to both of them, which makes the parting definitely harder.

Nana is a funny and highly sarcastic narrator, and I deeply enjoyed seeing the world through his eyes. It was a refreshing experience and definitely added depth to the story. I really enjoyed how all the characters were developed and exposed gradually, with the complexities and contradictions typical of humans. I have to say, for the beginning I was pretty sure of what "the big reason" for Satoru having to give Nana up would be, and I was right. This, however, did not make it any easier for me when everything was eventually revealed, and I did tear up a little towards the end, notwithstanding the fact that I had figured it out before.

Bittersweet and deeply poetical, this is the perfect read for you if you love animals or travel, or if you're simply looking for a cozy book to curl up with on a cold winter night.

Rating: 4/5