Reviews

Book review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

Rating: ★★★★★

(I have so many posts planned for this week it’s ridiculous. I started blogging such a short while ago and I am already behind on tags and all that good stuff. I LOVE IT. So that is why I’m posting, again, twice in a day.)

This book is a memoir following the life of James Bowen and his cat, Bob. James is a recovering drug addict who is just now going through rehab, and one day, when he’s coming back to his apartment after a day of playing guitar and singing on the streets of London, he meets Bob. Bob is a lovely little cat sitting in front of another apartment in his building. At first James just cuddles him a little, but after a while he realises that the cat won’t leave and that he’s getting skinnier and colder, so he takes care of him. He just wants to nurse him back to health, but soon he realises that no matter how hard he tries, Bob just doesn’t want to leave. An amazing friendship starts then – Bob spends all his time around James, and even follows him to the city centre where he makes a living as a busker.

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I never thought I would give a book about a man and his cat five stars, but this was an incredible read. James is the nicest person ever, and Bob is smart. Really smart. The way he comes into James’ life at exactly the right time and helps him turn his life around made me really happy. This is the kind of success story that I want to read – the kind of shit that makes you (almost) believe in guardian angels. James was incredibly lucky to have found this small friend – their encounter is almost magical. I got a lot more out of this book than I expected.

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Considering it’s a memoir, this book is really suspenseful. I was constantly worried about Bob, especially because James works on the street, so it can be quite dangerous at times. The pair get into a lot of trouble over the years and there are a lot of situations that made me want to scream into my pillow. I also really appreaciated how James never took Bob for granted. He never thought, this cat is mine now and he will never leave. Whenever something would happen he would think, maybe this is it, maybe Bob wants to go. And he always respected that, which is something I find very rare – that kind of respect for an animal. James felt about Bob the way parents feel about their children, with so much love and care that it kind of hurt.

This memoir offered insight into a lot of stuff I didn’t know. For example, did you know that London is divided into areas for different types of street performers? If you have a guitar you can’t play in the area of the living statues, for example. I thought that was really fascinating. This also changed the way I look at people who try to make a living on the street. I never treated them poorly, but in the past I have mostly ignored them. This made me aware of how much shit these people actually get for doing their job, and how big of a difference the smallest amount of money makes in their day.

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I have seen a bunch of reviews of this book claiming that the writing is bad. I disagree. James Bowen is not a professional writer, so of course this is not a literary masterpiece. It would be quite strange to read about his life with flowery language and metaphors. I was actually quite surprised at noticing the opposite, that the writing is quite good. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that, even though he spent some time being homeless and had a rough couple of years, he always liked reading, and he’s a very smart man.

I am definitely buying the sequel – I believe my local bookshop has a copy. In the meantime, I hope I could get you excited about picking this book up and reading about James and his cat.

 

‘Till next time and happy reading!

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