Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper
Genres: Memoir, Animals, Nonfiction
Maturity Level: 3
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The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.
Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever.” But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease, survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night. But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that transformed Gwen’s life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized that Homer had taught her the most valuable lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.
Probably the only thing I enjoyed more than falling in love with a blind cat was reading about other people falling in love with a blind cat.
As a cat owner who is also a life-long dog lover, I have gotten my fair share of questions about why I love cats when they’re so … cat-like. Wouldn’t I rather have a dog? The answer is yes, I would have, until I got to know cats. I used to think cats were standoffish, unaffectionate, and boring. But after my brother and my mom each adopted cats, and I adopted one myself because I couldn’t afford a dog, I got to understand them much better. Cats are really truly lovable creatures. The way they purr! I have come to believe that the only people who don’t like cats are the people who never spent much time with one. And a good portion of Homer’s Odyssey was about people meeting their first cat, Homer, and getting to know him. Watching people fall in love with cats made me fall in love with cats all over again.
As a memoir Homer’s Odyssey had its ups and downs. On the one hand, I loved reading about Homer’s antics, and the way his blindness made him more sensitive in other ways. As an animal lover, Cooper’s chapter on trying to get home to her pets in New York City on the days after September 11th had me literally sobbing.
But I didn’t really care for Gwen Cooper. While her love for her pets was admirable, she came across as a rather cliche early late 90s early 2000s twenty-something. Her eventual husband, Lawrence, while paraded as being a great man, I found to be a little bit of a jerk. What kind of guy makes no effort to bond with his girlfriends pets after they move in?
Cooper’s life seems pretty normal, not really worthy of a memoir, other than the fact that she happened to have a blind cat. As a result she sort of over humanized her pets in an attempt to make it seem as if her life somehow completely revolved around them. Which it didn’t. I don’t know, that sort of bugged me.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if it had really been HOMER’S Odyssey, and not Gwen Cooper’s Odyssey featuring Homer. But what else can you expect from a writer than to write about themselves, eh?