Book Review: A Street Cat Named Bob by James BowenPosted: May 22, 2013
It’s no wonder that this book has proved popular as it includes a lot of ingredients which will win it a place in people’s hearts. A story of hope and redemption, and a heartwarming friendship between a man and his cat.
The book follows Bowen, a recovering drug addict living in sheltered housing, who scratches a living from busking and finds himself adopting a stray cat named Bob, who he quickly develops affection for. Bob’s presence becomes a positive force in his life, providing Bowen with something to anchor his life to and a sense of responsibility, providing him with the reason to finally get completely clean of drugs.
Bob also proves beneficial to his busking, as many of the people who pass are drawn in by the cat and he inspires good will and random acts of kindness from strangers, helping Bowen survive, first as a busker and later as a Big Issue vendor.
Bowen’s not the best writer in the world, but there’s a simple, honest tone to his writing and his affection for Bob is clear, and it’s a rather charming tale. Bowen also provides an insight into life on the streets and drug addiction, particularly the challenges and negative responses buskers can receive and the politics and rivalries of Big Issue sellers in London.
It exposed my own naivety about the vendors, as I’d always assumed a kind of camaraderie between them, but I guess at the end of the day they are in competition and Bowen and Bob’s popularity was bound to rub people up the wrong way. Still, it’s rather sad to see how they turn on one another.
There are times when he’s a little vague, particularly about some of the “bad things” he’s done in his past, but that’s the man’s prerogative and really the book is less about his past and more about his hope for the future he attempts to craft for himself and Bob.
It’s all rather sweet and heartwarming, and while there are negative sides and frankly upsetting evidence of how douchey people can be to the homeless, it generally reaffirms your faith in the decency and kindness of people.
Verdict: A sweet and hopeful story of second chances and redemption. It’s not life changing but it’s a pleasant enough way to pass the time and sure to warm the cockles of your heart. 6/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.