Hodder Paperbacks, 2016
Reviewed by Ian Mowll
This book is a true story about a homeless young man (James Bowen) and a ginger cat he rescued from the street who he named “Bob”. At the lowest point in his life, James was living on the streets, he had turned to drink and drugs and he was probably close to death on a number of occasions. When the book starts, his fortunes had turned in that he was living in a basic flat, was on methadone (a drug to help him with his heroin addiction) and was busking for a living. However, it was when Bob turned up that things really started to change. For Bob was no ordinary cat.
When Bob entered into James’ life, the connection was immediate and a very strong bond grew between them. Bob got all of the care and attention he needed and James got to look after Bob, something that helped to extend him away from his issues. Bob was different from other cats – he had a really striking face and amazingly piercing green eyes. Strangers would come up and want to stroke Bob and take pictures of him. So Bob was a real help to James as he attracted customers whilst he was busking, so he started to make a lot more money.
The book narrates the many highs and lows of their journey together; how Bob needed medical attention so James took him to the vet and paid his precious earned cash which he could ill afford. How James almost lost Bob once and found him after a desperate search. And James’ time selling the Big Issue with the help of Bob – a magazine that homeless people can sell to make money.
The book is well written and heart-warming. There is self-reflection in the book from James: his early childhood, his upbringing and how he got into the dire situation he found himself in. And some insight into how very, very hard it is to live on the streets.
This book is now an international best seller and has become part of a book series about Bob. There has also been a film released based on the book with various details of the story changed.
Ultimately, it is a story about the connection between a human and an animal, how they both needed and helped each other and how together they made the world a better and more compassionate place. A theme that has touched the hearts of so many around the world – including my own.