Many years I used to own It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville. Then I gave my copy to my younger brother. Yet I have never forgotten it. When I recently saw it at a library book sale, I immediately grabbed a copy. Upon rereading it, I was surprised at how undramatic the story and how average the main character is compared to many of today’s books. Yet I still love the book.
The main character is fourteen-year-old Dave. His life is peopled with his parents, an eccentric cat lady neighbor named Kate, a couple friends, and eventually a girlfriend. Oh, and then there’s cat. He’s a stray that sometimes visited Kate and to whom Dave gave a permanent home partly to spite his dad who prefers dogs.
I found it refreshing to read a book that is just about a nice boy and his life in New York, especially about a boy who is good and fun but still has moods, shows attitude, and makes mistakes. I also appreciated reading about a cat and especially one who stays put throughout the book. So many stories about pets and their owners are about either dogs or about animals who are separated from their owner and now must make the long treacherous journey home. Okay, there is one chapter where Cat escapes from the family’s car during their road trip, but this chapter ends up being more about how to avoid bullies and why parents should listen to their children than about an herioc pet.
In a sense, this book could have been set in anywhere. The themes explored are universal. In another sense, this book belongs in New York with its apartment complexes, subways, traffic jams, homeless people…. I like the story both for its themes and its sense of place.
This book is largely about relationships … and change. I am a sucker for these books, especially done with humor and morals intact. Dave and his dad fight. Dave’s mom has asthma attacks when they do. Dave befriends Tom, who stole once on a dare. He also meets Mary, but before he is ready to date. The lives of all these individuals of different ages gently interwine to tell a tale of gradual change. That every one of the significant characters are basically decent people doing the best they can is part of the charm of It’s Like This, Cat.
My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.
How would you rate this book?