June 24, 2017
If you’ve checked out many of my reviews, you’ll know I don’t say that I love many books.
This book has stuck with me since the first reading. The characters are real. I know people just like them. My students will be able to identify with them and their feelings. They are flawed. They are funny. They are realistic.
Add in the fact that the main character Meagan can hear and talk to animals, well, this storyline takes on an all new depth.
Two worlds collide as three unlikely friends bond over saving a doomed animal shelter.
If you are looking for a book to recommend to middle school and older students, this is a great book! It includes realistic, although illegal, escapades the characters find themselves in. It includes romance and characters with physical disabilities. It includes realistic relationships between adult and student-aged characters.
Just because the cover has a cat paw and a human hand reaching for each other doesn’t mean this book lacks depth or plot. Pick it up and give it a read!
“You can understand me, can’t you, girl?” the calico cat said, staring straight at her.
Meagan stretched, much like a cat, and then crossed her arms. “So what if I can? And FYI—cigarettes relieve stress for me. I need them like you need food.”
Whiskey’s ears flattened. “I do not need poisoned food, thank you very much. And what is stress, girl?”
“My name is Meagan. How would you like to be called ‘cat’ all the time?”
“It is what I am.” Whiskey preened her head with a paw. “You humans are the only ones who need to give out names. In my lifetime, I have had three different names, though I like Whiskey the best. Now, what is this ‘stress’?”
“Stress is something adults do to kids all the time. It’s that push-push-push feeling that gets up all inside you. Stress makes your stomach bunch, neck tense, and head ache.”
Whiskey stopped grooming. “So why don’t you just walk away from this stress? Cats do it all the time.”
Meagan sighed. “I wish it were that easy.”
Whiskey sneezed, making her bells ring. “It’s easier than poisoning yourself with that white stick. If you could smell what I can smell, then you’d never pick up another white stick.”
Meagan laughed. “Maybe, but when I first walked into the shelter, you should have smelled what I smelled. It was ripe! Whew, you animals are disgusting!”
Whiskey grinned a cat grin, and then laid down on the gravel. “Does the Kind One know?”
“The human you came in with. Does she know that you can talk to cats?”
“Aunt Izzy? No. Only my mom knew. She used to work for a veterinarian, but…” Meagan paused, shook her head, and then cleared her throat, “Nobody does now. I used to talk to animals all the time when I was younger. It seemed natural to me, picking up pictures or feelings or emotions from a stray cat, a wandering dog, or a friend’s pet, and then sending a message back to them. I remember it being fun.”
Whiskey’s yellow eyes widened. “You can understand dogs, too?”
Meagan nodded. “Sure. I just pick up their signals, the same as I would for cats, and connect with them. I stopped doing it when I was around ten ’cause—” Meagan paused for the second time, and sighed deeply “—kids were making fun of me and adults didn’t believe me. I honestly thought I’d lost the ability until I picked up on you.”
The dogs started barking wildly again. “Okay, okay, hold your bits and pieces, Mama Gail is coming!”
“What’s going on?” Meagan asked, peering around the shed.
“It’s feeding time for the dogs. The Loud One is rotating them so they all get a chance to relieve themselves before eating.”
“The Loud One? For not caring about names, you animals sure have some strange ones for us.”
Whiskey’s tail twitched. “We go by the steady patterns we pick up from a human.”
Her tail flicked again. “Yes. Every human is different. The Loud One booms in everything she does. She uses her voice far too much and her ears far too little. The Quiet One is the opposite. She listens and rarely speaks, but knows more about what’s going on at the shelter than anyone else. Then there’s the Quick One. She speeds through the shelter, cleaning, watering, and feeding us as if she’s doing the job of ten humans. It’s all so disturbing to watch, darting here and there like a lost puppy on the road.”
“I see,” said Meagan. “So how did you come up with the oh-so-wrong name for my Aunt Izzy?”
Whiskey jumped up on her lap and stared into her blue eyes. Meagan shrunk. “If you can communicate with me, then you should know why.”
Whiskey was a light-weight cat, no more than a furry bag of bones, yet there was something intimidating about her, like an old-school teacher smacking a ruler against her palm. The truth was, this elderly cat knew her aunt better than she did and it made her a little on the jealous side. Other than the stories her dad had shared—the bar fight, the drug addiction, the rebellious big sister—she knew nothing else.
Meagan shook her head. “I haven’t a freaking clue, Whiskey.”
The cat almost looked disappointed. “Then may I suggest that you start paying attention? You’ll learn more about humans that way.”
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