I loved this book so much! The Travelling Cat Chronicles is such a beautiful, moving story about a cat named Nana and his beloved human Satoru, and the road trip they take to find Nana a new home. Along the way, they reconnect with people from Satoru’s past, old friends from school who may be trusted to give Nana a loving family. The reason Satoru needs to give Nana up isn’t revealed till later in the book, but the truth is that Nana doesn’t want to leave Satoru. And as the road trip progresses and one excuse after another renders each potential new home the wrong fit, Nana and Satoru end up having a lovely adventure and creating beautiful memories together.
This book just took hold of my heart from the very first moment when Satoru discovers a stray cat lounging on the hood of his silver van. Arikawa imagines such a beautifully distinctive voice for Nana that I can just imagine a feisty feline actually thinking these thoughts and acting this way. (Kudos as well to Philip Gabriel for translating Arikawa’s words so beautifully!) Nana begrudgingly takes Satoru’s offer of friendship, enjoying the delicious crunchies the man leaves out while haughtily maintaining his distance as a free feline on the streets. I loved seeing how Nana initially realizes his affection for Satoru almost against his will, but once he makes the decision to live with the man, becomes the most fiercely loyal companion.
The reason behind the road trip isn’t too difficult to guess, and without giving any spoilers away, I’ll just admit that the last few chapters absolutely broke my heart. I cried so hard at the ending, not because something sad happens, but because Arikawa so beautifully portrays the depth of love between Nana and Satoru. There’s a scene where Nana sneaks into a place he shouldn’t be in, that honestly, any pet owner would be lucky to have such an animal in their lives.
So often, books that are this emotionally heartwarming about the bond between pets and their humans are written about dogs. As a cat lover, I’m so happy to have this story finally told from a cat’s point of view. We also hear from the perspectives of the friends Nana and Satoru meet along the way, and learn about their stories and their lives. Through it all, Arikawa just creates an overwhelmingly warm and loving sense of community and family amongst his characters, and it was an absolutely joy to spend a few hours with them.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.