The Traveling Cat Chronicles
(Translator – Philip Gabriel)
Sometimes you have to leave behind everything you know to find the place you truly belong…
Nana the cat is on a road trip. He is not sure where he’s going or why, but it means that he gets to sit in the front seat of a silver van with his beloved owner, Satoru. Side by side, they cruise around Japan through the changing seasons, visiting Satoru’s old friends. He meets Yoshimine, the brusque and unsentimental farmer for whom cats are just ratters; Sugi and Chikako, the warm-hearted couple who run a pet-friendly B&B; and Kosuke, the mournful husband whose cat-loving wife has just left him. There’s even a very special dog who forces Nana to reassess his disdain for the canine species.
But what is the purpose of this road trip? And why is everyone so interested in Nana? Nana does not know and Satoru won’t say. But when Nana finally works it out, his small heart will break…
My thoughts on this book…
The story begins with a stray cat who enjoys being free and is very happy with his life. His favorite place to sleep is on top of a parked, silver van that belongs to a young man named Satoru. Satoru likes the cat and brings him ‘crunchies’ from time to time. Eventually, the cat suffers an injury and needs some help.
“By the time I reached the silver van, dawn was breaking. I really couldn’t take another step. This is it, I thought. I cried out at the top of my lungs. Oww…owwwww!”
Luckily, Satoru comes to his rescue, takes him in as his pet, and a beautiful relationship begins to develop between the two. He names the cat Nana and they become best friends.
Years later, Satoru tells Nana that they’re going on a road trip together. He has to find a new home for Nana and it’s unknown exactly why. On the trip they visit each of Satoru’s friends around Japan and it’s like a trip down memory lane.
“It seemed Satoru wanted me to go with him somewhere. He opened the door of my basket and I got in without making a fuss. For the five years I’d lived with him, I’d always been a sensible cat. For instance, even when he took me to my bête noire, the vet, I didn’t make a racket.”
When it’s time for Nana to stay at his new home, it’s something he’s not willing to accept. In Nana’s eyes, Satoru is his home and the only one he’s willing to accept.
The story started out slow and seemed too simple at first. I had some issues with the dialogue/narration in the beginning and had a hard time getting into it. I realized that I just needed to slow down, and once I settled in it was hard to put the book down. It was around the last half of the book that literally had me captivated with all the beautiful scenery and adventures they took together. As the story unfolded, I had so many emotions. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to walk away from a book multiple times to bawl my eyes out! Other times, I found Nana hilarious as he reminded me of my old, wise, outdoor cat, Rambo. How Nana talks is how I imagine the animals in my life think. As a pet owner in general, I reflected greatly when reading this story as it reminded me of the unconditional love we have for each other.
Overall, this story is truly written beautifully and I thought the epilogue wrapped it up perfectly. Honestly, I don’t think you have to be a cat lover to enjoy this book. I’d recommend it to anyone. Also, I was very excited to learn that the book has been adapted to film and can’t wait to watch it!
I’d like to thank Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group and the author Hiro Arikawa for sharing this book with me in exchange for an honest review.
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; Advance Reading Copy edition (October 23, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451491335
- ISBN-13: 978-0451491336