Bob, the hero of our (true) story, is a stray ginger tomcat who is taken in by James, a recovering drug addict looking to get his life back on track. Having another mouth to feed and another soul to care for gives James the purpose he needs to turn his life around, and their adventures together are the stuff of fairytales.
Having known a little about the story before even buying the book, I was surprised at how much there was to tell. James’ personal life story is an often tragic tale, of a troubled teen who disappeared between the cracks of society, and awoke to find himself living on the streets. This is a story which resonates strongly with the reader, as his plight is something that a lot of people can relate to; whether it be a friend or family member, or a news story about a similar case, everyone is aware of the horrors that living rough can bring.
These sections of the book, where Bowen takes us back into his past, and describes his feelings of loneliness, addiction and hopelessness, are by far the best-written passages in the novel and are utterly enthralling. The reader feels an instant empathy with our narrator, and his laid back writing style and brutal honesty about his past indiscretions really allow us to get to know and trust him.
Bob himself is a wonderful character, and every tale in the book oozes details of his incredible personality. Loyal, intelligent and loving, this cat is one of a kind. It’s common knowledge that owning a pet can really improve someone’s quality of life, but it is clear that a companion like Bob can do so much more, and it is amazing to discover how important a fixture in James’ life a pet becomes. The beauty of this story is its reality: everything you read really happened, and most importantly, Bob really did have an integral part in helping James get clean and have a fresh start.
Not only does the novel uncover this beautiful relationship between man and cat – it also exposes a huge range of human qualities and flaws. Some passages about the abuse and prejudice that James faced as a street performer and Big Issue salesman is horrific to read, however, the human kindness and generosity shown to him and Bob later in the story goes far to restore the reader’s faith in the public.
A Streetcat Named Bob is written with a broad audience in mind. Great literature it is not, but magical, real-life tale of love and loyalty it most certainly is. There are also loads of videos of the unlikely duo all over the internet (Bob having become a viral sensation) which bring certain aspects of the story to life.
For an easy read, which will put you in a great mood every time you pick it up, I recommend this book. Cat lovers and dog owners alike cannot help but fall for Bob’s charm and James’ amazing story.