Review: Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, by Gwen Cooper

A friend and fellow cat lover gave me this book for Christmas last year, and I admit I put off reading it because I feared cuteness overload.  But after two less than satisfying reads, I was in the mood for something very different.  This fit the bill, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Gwen Cooper was a young aspiring author when she adopted Homer, a kitten who lost both his eyes because of a severe infection.  She was experienced with rescue cats, but not with a special needs cat like Homer.  But Homer quickly demonstrated he didn’t need sight to live a full life.  He got along well with Gwen’s two other cats, and easily found his way around her apartment, relying on hearing and smell to find things. He was playful and affectionate in a way uncommon to cats, and endeared himself to all who met him.

What Gwen didn’t realize, as she cared for Homer’s basic needs, was how much he was supporting her journey into adulthood.  As she struggled to find consistent employment, Homer was there for her.  He defended her against danger (really!  I’m still not sure how they made it through that situation safely).  When Gwen decided to pull up stakes and  move from Miami to New York City (no small feat with three cats in tow), Homer helped Gwen to see that sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, and not let others limit your potential.  The one area where he wasn’t much help was in her relationships with men, most of whom seemed put off by a woman who had three (count ‘em!) cats.  But eventually, that all works out, too.

As I said, this book could have suffered from cuteness, but it didn’t.  It also could have suffered from pretentiousness, but it didn’t, mostly.  Her writing is good, if a bit repetitive.  There was one point where it seemed Gwen was going to pull out all the melodramatic stops and I thought, “oh, don’t go there!”  But this turned out to be one of the best-written sections of the book, where Gwen faced a stressful, life-changing situation beyond anything I can imagine.  For a while there, I couldn’t put it down.

And the best part:  it all ends well.  The book ends in 2010, when Homer is twelve years old and still living a full life.  And he’s still alive today.  So you can keep the tissues on the shelf and just enjoy reading about the life of a pretty remarkable cat.

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