I really enjoyed Carlie Sorosiak’s I, Cosmo, even though I’m not a dog person (see my review of that here!), so when I saw her next book was cat-focused, I was over the moon!
Book: My Life As A Cat by Carlie Sorosiak
Read before: No
Publication date: 3rd September 2020
Ownership: Proof copy sent free of charge by Nosy Crow Books. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: Scene of near-drowning.
Aliens are out there, and every single one takes a trip to Earth on their 300th birthday. They take the form of an Earth creature and spend one month learning as much as they can about the world. One alien in particular is so excited to become a forest ranger at Yellowstone National Park, but there’s a mix up in the transfer, and he ends up nowhere near Yellowstone – and worse, not as a human, but as a cat! His cat-self is not at all well-equipped to deal with the enormous storm he lands in, but luckily for him, he’s rescued by Olive, a girl spending the summer with her gruff grandmother. She gives him a home, and the name Leonard, and helps him to experience all the Earth things he was hoping to – but although Leonard starts to really connect with her, he has to convince her to take him across the country to Yellowstone in time for the rendezvous with his people, so he isn’t trapped on Earth forever…
I knew the moment I picked this one up that it was going to make me bawl like a baby. The book starts with a flash-forward, with Olive and Leonard racing towards the rendezvous point, and the emotional stakes are high from the very first page. Olive teaches Leonard about human life, but he also helps her to come into her own; she feels weird, has no friends, and lacks confidence, but Leonard’s friendship helps her to learn to love herself, and it’s joyous to see. As someone who’s completely besotted with my cat, I found the love between Olive and Leonard very touching, and the thought of them parting really tugged on my heartstrings – seasoned readers may suspect a twist in the tale from the off, but I found that didn’t lessen any of the emotional impact for me. The gorgeousness of this book isn’t in the plot, but in the heartfelt connection between characters, and the honesty of the feelings depicted. This was true for I, Cosmo as well, so I think being able to write about love in a realistic, intense, but non-sappy way is a real strength of the author. Also like I, Cosmo, this isn’t a book you need to worry about giving to a young animal lover, as no animals come to any harm!
I couldn’t help but fall in love with Leonard’s voice. Though this is an emotional book, it’s also a very funny one, and much of the humour derives from Leonard’s outsider observations of human behaviour, and the lengths Olive goes to in her attempts to conceal his alienness from others. His alien nature makes him philosophical and smart, but there are also brilliant moments where he can’t resist his body’s cat reflexes, and it’s so cute! This might not be a straightforward cat book, but there’s still plenty of feline loveliness that should satisfy even the biggest cat lover.
My Life As A Cat is a wonderful read – it’s sweet, heartwarming, and full of a kind of existential hopefulness that will leave you emotional, but happy. I really recommend it to anyone looking for kids’ fiction with a lot of heart – just make sure you have tissues. A very apt five out of five cats!