Saturday, March 18, 2017

Book Review: The Cat at the Wall

I did not want to read this book. I came across it while inputting something on goodreads after clicking on the author to see what else she's written. Obviously as a cat lady, I was immediately drawn to the title. After reading the synopsis, I thought the premise was interesting, and I wanted to know how it ended. Alas, my google skills couldn't find me a long form summary, so I picked up the book. It's a juvenile title, and I figured it wouldn't take me long to read and it would be worth it in the end to know what happened, right?

The Cat at the Wall
By Deborah Ellis
2014
152 pages

A cat (our narrator) sneaks into a Palestinian house, looking for food. She has followed in two Israeli soldiers, tasked with spying on the neighbourhood. But they are not alone: there is a young boy hiding in the house. Eventually he gets discovered by the soldiers, and then the neighbourhood discovers he is trapped in the house with the soldiers, and it all escalates into a frenzy. Meanwhile, our cat narrator tries not to get involved because nothing is her fault or problem. But she is not just any cat: she is actually the reincarnation of an eighth grade girl. Will she step up to resolve the frenzy? What happened to the boys parents? How did the girl die? Will they all die?

I did not want to read this book, and I'm almost sorry I did (almost). The story set in Palestine is interesting, and a fascinating look at life within the conflict. This, plus the fact that it's about a cat, would've been right up my alley when I was 8-12 years old. I'm certain I would've read this book if it had been around then. But would I have enjoyed it? Probably not - because the flashbacks to the girl's former life are super annoying - she is spoiled, pretentious, selfish, and just downright mean spirited. A 10 year old me (and a 36 year old me) would hate her. But then in the end she steps up, claims responsibility, and does something selfless to help others. Hooray! Moral learned by all the juvenile readers! Except the last page about her new personality is really twee and abrupt; 10 year old me would've hated the ended, just like 36 year old me.

So. An interesting book about a cat in Palestine on one hand, an annoying glimpse into the life of a rotten 13 year old girl on the other. Half interesting, half annoying, but it only took me a couple hours to read so not a waste of time I guess. If you are a 9-12 year old girl who likes cats and reading about other places in the world then you should pick it up. If you're not, then don't. Nice cover art though, eh?!


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