Wednesday, August 21, 2013
A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life is an international best seller for a reason. Originally released in the UK last year, it finally arrived stateside in July, and promptly found a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List. Unlike stereotypical animal memoirs that can be plagued by sob-inducing endings where the owner has to say a tearful goodbye to their beloved pet, Bob is an uplifting story of hope, love, and undeniable proof that the human-animal bond does exist (also: no one dies at the end!).
I've known about the book since last year, but somehow still hadn't managed to read it. Then, I received it for review from the publisher a few months ago...and shamefully put it aside. Well, I kick myself for doing that, because as soon as I picked it up last week, I breezed through the 279-page story in the course of a few nights, even forcing myself to stop at some points, just so the experience wouldn't end.
Bob celebrating his U.S. debut.
I was immediately engrossed in the story of how James Bowen, a former heroin addict, nursed Bob back to health, and the deep and spiritual connection that formed between these two lost souls, who ended up saving one other by adding meaning and purpose to each other's lives.
James's life changed forever the first time Bob followed him to work.
In 2007, Bowen was living in assisted housing, enrolled in a drug dependency program, and scraping by with money he earned by singing Nirvana, Oasis, and Johnny Cash songs on the streets of London. Then, he found Bob, an injured orange cat living in the stairwell of his building. He spent almost all of the money he had nursing the sick tabby back to health, and an immediate bond was formed between the two -- although, this was no overnight love story.
In fact, part of the joy that comes from reading the book is learning how their relationship blossomed, as the two form an understanding and learn how to trust one another (or more aptly, as James learns to put his trust in Bob). The story interweaves James's personal history and fatherly feelings towards Bob, along with anecdotes about their time working on the streets, where Bob gains a huge following, and shows he truly is an extraordinary cat.
He also makes a point of explaining how living on the streets is a dehumanizing experience, but how Bob's presence made him visible to the world again, writing, "It was as if my Harry Potter invisibility cloak had slipped off my shoulders." After a troubling incident puts his busking career on hold, Bowen is inspired by Bob to get his life together by becoming a licensed magazine seller and kicking his drug habit once and for all.
Meet a Street Cat Named Bob
Since its initial publication, a children's version, Bob: No Ordinary Cat, has been released, followed by a sequel, The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat. There are also rumors that a movie adaptation is in the works, although no official word has been announced just yet.
Thanks to his newfound fame, James and Bob no longer have to live rough, but still spend time meeting with fans at book signings, and engaging with them through their popular Facebook and Twitter pages.
I absolutely adored this book, and highly recommend it to all cat lovers. A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life is available now on Amazon, and at fine bookstores near you.
Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book for review, but all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. Meow!