The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas
How a Cat Brought a family the Gift of Love.
Plume, Penguin Group, 2012, 2010
I enjoyed this book a lot – the way it’s written I felt like I was on the journey with Julia (mom) and George (son). It starts out just before George is born and afterward when almost immediately she realizes he isn’t like other babies. He screams as if in pain whenever anyone touches him and he never sleeps. Being born in the late 1990s autism must not have been that well known because if you read his symptoms, you say ‘autism’ but all Julia ever got from teachers and doctors was ‘he’ll get better’, ‘he’ll grow out of it’, and the like. I felt very frustrated along with her because no one knew what was going on – at least until he was a little older and was finally diagnosed. But having a name to a condition and managing it are two totally separate things. When George was 10 years old, Ben, a small tuxedo cat, came into his life and they immediately formed a bond. Within Ben was the key to opening George up to his mother and the world. I rejoiced along with Julia over George’s ability to communicate with his mother and to express his thoughts and dreams. And then I needed to cry when Ben disappeared a short three years later. With Ben’s disappearance, so went George’s willingness/ability to express any feeling other that anger and rage. He shut down, refusing to interact with anyone. Julia searched high and low for weeks and then months and Ben was still gone. Reading about the search and how she was disappointed so many times was incredibly heartbreaking. Spoiler alert: Ben is found! (well, it is in the title). And life, for George, is wonderful again.
I really went on an emotional roller coaster with this book – especially during the part when Ben was missing. But I truly love books like this – I want them to stretch me, slap me around and wring me dry throughout the story. It did take me a while to get on board with the whole England-English language thing (as opposed to American English). What we in the states might call a ‘housing project’ is called an ‘estate’; the trunk of a car is the boot; underwear or undergarments are ‘smalls’ or ‘whites’. It was kind of fun after a while to see what fun new words and phrases I could pickup. Anyway – it’s a really good book – even though it is written mostly about Ben, I learned a lot about autism and the challenges the families are faced with on a daily basis. Since it’s been 6 years since the book was written – I want an update!
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2016!
Topic: Read a Book Set in Another Country.
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