Thursday, December 7, 2023

"The Travelling Cat Chronicles" by Hiro Arikawa , Philip Gabriel (Translator)

Confession time:  contrary to childless/free stereotyping, dh & I don't have pets -- and if I had to make a choice, I'll admit I'm more of a dog person than a cat person (although I don't mind cats). And when it comes to reading, I've never been a big fan of books about animals, although I was exposed to lots of them in school. In elementary/primary/grade school, the teacher would often read us a book, a chapter at a time, when we got back from lunch, before diving into the afternoon's lessons and activities. Among the titles I remember are "Black Beauty," "Black Gold," "Misty of Chincoteague," "The Incredible Journey," "The Yearling," etc.  So many of these titles were (in my memory, anyway) horribly sad, and they honestly just didn't interest me as much as books about people did. 

So I'll admit "The Travelling Cat Chronicles" by Hiro Arikawa (translated by Philip Gabriel) isn't a book I likely would have picked up on my own. It's the January read for my Childless Collective/Nomo Book Club (and I'll be leading the discussion!).  

Nana is a stray (male) cat, taken in by a young Japanese man named Satoru, because Nana reminds him of his childhood pet, Hachi.  (Nana means Seven in Japanese, and Satoru decides on the name because Nana's tail is bent like the number 7). They live together happily for several years -- until Satoru explains to Nana that he can no longer keep him (for reasons that are not initially clear).  Together, cat and human travel around Japan in Satoru's silver van, visiting some of Satoru's childhood friends and vetting them as potential new owners. Through these friends, we gain insight into Satoru's formative years and experiences. 

I sensed pretty quickly where this story was going. Kleenex was required at the end.  There is, however, a dose of humour provided by the proud and feisty Nana, who narrates most of the book. 

From a childless perspective, this is a a pretty "safe" read. Bonus:  near the end, we're introduced to Satoru's (single and childless, awkward but loving) aunt who raised him, and get a few surprise revelations about his past.  

3.5 stars on StoryGraph. I debated whether that should be rounded up or down on Goodreads, and settled on 4 stars.  I wasn't immediately captivated by this book, but it did wrap up rather nicely. 

This was Book #45 read to date in 2023 (and Book #1 finished in December), bringing me to 100% of my 2023 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books! :)  4 books ahead of schedule. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2023 tagged as "2023 books."  

1 comment:

  1. This sounds sweet. I'm definitely more of a cat person than a dog person though! lol Though I'm fond of certain dogs too. There's another Japanese book about a cat and a bookshop and a library - I read it a year or two ago. You might like that one - because it's more about the books etc. "The Cat Who Saved Books" by Sosuke Natsukawa/Natsukawa Sosuke (depending if you anglicise the name or not).