Saturday, July 31, 2010

Homer's Odyssey

Book 40: Homer's Odyssey 
Gwen Cooper

I think I've said before in this blog that once in a while a book grabs me in an unexpected way, pulls me in, and affects my emotions in ways I wasn't anticipating.  Homer's Odyssey is one of these books. 

Homer's Odyssey tells the story of an abandoned, blind kitten that Gwen Cooper adopts.  As Homer adapts to his new life with Gwen and her other two cats, Scarlett and Vashti, Gwen and her friends and family learn more about life and love than they ever expected from Homer.  

I consider myself an animal person.  I'm a cat owner by default.  Growing up, we always had dogs.  I never entertained the idea of a cat until I realized my life is too unpredictable for me to be a good dog owner.  I travel too much, keep too many late hours.  I have ended up with two cats, Samantha and Magic.  I treat them like dogs, and for the most part, it works.  But I think that was one of the first things that helped me identify with Gwen Cooper- I, too, was a woman of a certain age with more than one cat.  There's a lot of stereotypes there, and I really struggled with adopting Magic because of that.  But I thought Samantha needed the companionship, and nearly two years later, here we are.  So I really understood Gwen's hesitation at agreeing to consider adopting Homer after she had two other cats already.

For animal lovers, though, there's sometime no choice. For whatever reason, that animal captures our heart and we're powerless to say no to bringing them into our lives.

So began Homer's journey with Gwen.  Cooper recounts how Homer never really realized he is blind- the world just is as it is to him, and he adjusts.  Like most animals, it took a bit of time for Scarlett and Vashti to warm up to him, but they did.

At the same time, Homer's capacity for love, and his innate ability to assume the world is a good place, despite his wretched first few weeks, taught the author a lot about how to judge character in people.  If we pay attention, we can all learn a lot from the animals around us.  So many of Cooper's friends and family took to Homer. Yes, the novelty of being blind probably sparked a lot of the interest, but the little cat managed to endear himself to so many people by doing what came naturally to him.  Reminds me of some of my friends, and how they have such special bonds with animals.

Homer has some amazing abilities, perhaps due to other senses that are heightened to compensate for his lack of  sight.  I laughed out loud reading about him going after a fly.  And I cringed out of fear for the author and was so proud of Homer in the chapter called Mucho Gato- and to avoid any spoilers, that's all I will say about that.

Cooper and the cats were living very close to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001.  Cooper was forced to evacuate with no time to retrieve the cats.  I've always had a hard time grieving 9/11.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it is because if I really let myself think about the anguish and desperation of so many people, it would be hard to come out of it.  Reading Homer's Odyssey, even all these years after 9/11, I was able to do a little of that grieving.  I think it was because of how much- hope? No, that isn't the right word. Maybe community? that came out of 9/11, at least in the immediate aftermath.  So many people, friends and family, rallied to help Cooper rescue the cats and make sure they were housed after the rescue.

I don't think you have to be a cat person to appreciate Homer's Odyssey. I do think you have to be an animal person, though.  There's something about being able to appreciate our pets- always so glad to see us whether we have been gone five minutes or five days. The special bond we have with our animals, treating them as true companions. I think it would be hard for someone who doesn't have that same relationship with animals to appreciate the beauty of the story.  Cooper's writing style is open and friendly.  I felt like she could have been telling me the story of being Homer's owner over coffee or chatting at a party.

I originally bought this as an ebook, but I'll be adding a physical copy to my collection.  What can I say? I laughed, I cried, I fell a little in love with Homer.  This book was heartwarming and charming.  I'm so glad Homer found me.

Oh, and you can follow Homer on Twitter: @homerblindcat

1 comment:

  1. I have officially started following him on Twitter and will be buying the book as soon as I'm back in the States. This sounds great! There really is nothing like the relationship we have with our pets, whether they be cats, dogs, rabbits, or hedgehogs (yes, I had a friend with a hedgehog named Hotspur). Thanks for the info and warning that I'll probably need the tissues:)